Holiday shoppers can reduce the chances of becoming an identity theft victim this year by taking some simple preventative measures, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).
“The hustle and bustle of the holidays creates the perfect opportunity for thieves bent on stealing credit cards or other financial information,” said Jeanne Salvatore, senior VP for the III. “Shoppers are tired, stores are crowded and it’s easy to become less guarded about personal information that appears on personal checks, driver’s licenses, and credit cards.”
Thieves can take information from identifying documents and use them to impersonate a victim, steal from bank accounts, establish phony insurance policies, or open unauthorized credit card accounts.
To help prevent identity theft this holiday season, here are some tips for you and your customers to follow.
Keep the amount of personal information in purses or wallets to the bare minimum. Avoid carrying additional credit cards, Social Security cards, or passports unless absolutely necessary.
Proceed with caution when shopping online. Only buy from reputable retailers with a secure network.
Monitor bank accounts. Do not rely on credit card companies or banks to alert you of suspicious activity. Carefully monitor bank and credit card statements to make sure all transactions are accurate. When a problem is suspected, contact your credit card company or bank immediately.
Periodically order a credit report from the central Web site set up by the three nationwide consumer reporting companies. A 2004 law entitles consumers to one free credit report per year. Make sure your report is accurate and includes only authorized activities.
Do not give out personal information. Whether on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet, do not divulge sensitive information or your social security number unless you initiated the contact, are familiar with the person or company, and are confident that they have a secure line.