As the holiday season kicks into gear, unfortunately so does the identity theft season. With most consumers increasing their purchasing activity both on and offline this month, identity thieves see increased opportunities to take advantage of you and your information.
Below are a few protection tips to help keep your personal information safe for the holidays – and all year-round.
- Shop on safe and secure websites only. A closed padlock should appear on the status bar of your browser when online shopping. Once you decide to make a purchase, be sure the URL has changed from “http” to “https,” which ensures that the website is secure. Non-secure sites can increase the chances of your information, such as a debit card number, being stolen.
- Use credit cards instead of debit cards when possible. If there is a problem with your transaction, credit card companies can get money back for you. And while both debit cards and credit cards offer protection against fraudulent charges, debit cards work more like cash, increasing the likelihood that a thief can make an impact on your accounts at a faster rate.
- Secure your smartphones and tablets that contain personal information. Not only is a stolen technology device an expensive loss, it can also be dangerous to your identity. Today, many people store personal information and saved passwords on their phones and tablets, which could be used to steal your identity. Consider using a password lock on your phone and be alert of your surroundings when using your devices in public.
- Monitor your bank, credit card and loan statements. Keep an eye on your statements for any activity that you don’t recognize, no matter how small they are. Identity thieves will often attempt small purchases with your information to see if you will notice before taking full advantage.
- Consider identity theft protection products. Delta Community’s wholly owned subsidiary, Members Insurance Advisors, offers two identity theft protection packages for our members. They’re affordably priced to fit your budget and guard against financial, criminal and medical fraud. The plans include a variety of features, including credit bureau reports, internet surveillance, identity theft insurance and others. And best of all, it’s a much greater value than similar services that provide fewer services at a higher cost.
Though the holiday season increases the opportunity for identity thieves to take advantage of your personal information, you should be alert and protected year-round. Take advantage of identity theft protection services offered by Members Insurance Advisors and begin protecting yourself by monitoring your statements and shopping smart online and in stores.
Submitted by Hesper