Holiday Fraud

July 13, 2016

'Tis The Season to Prevent Identity Fraud

Comment December 1, 2016 by Triangle Credit Union

Nothing can spoil the holiday season like discovering that someone has stolen your credit card information, social security number or other personal information. In addition to causing you potential financial losses, dealing with identity theft can take time away from your celebrations with loved ones as you deal with resolution and credit restoration.

Letting your guard down amid the bustle of the holiday season, whether in pursuit of that perfect gift for a special someone or chatting excitedly about plans to visit a new ski resort, can be a recipe for disaster, according to the Consumer Federation of America. Identity thieves resort to everything from picking pockets to deciphering location codes in digital photos to see where the house is with that brand-new home theater system or the diamond bracelet adorning the wrist of the lady of the house. Don’t let everyone in on your plans for the holidays, especially the trip you’re planning to Aunt Martha’s or the cool new electronics you know will be under the tree. Don’t publish photos on social networking sites, either, lest they contain geocodes that give thieves your address—something else never to post—so they can relieve you of your holiday plunder. Ditto for birthdays, Social Security numbers, and other personal info—all clues to lighten your wallet and ruin your credit.

Here are ten smart ways to protect yourself from identity theft during the holiday shopping season:

  1. Never carry your social security card with you unless you need it for a specific purpose. Carry your checkbook and credit cards only when you need them.
  2. Keep your credit cards in site during in-person transactions to prevent “skimming.” This crime occurs when employees run your card through a separate device to steal its information.
  3. When entering your pin number at an ATM, stand close and block the keyboard with your body so that others can’t see your pin code.
  4. When shopping online, be sure to use only secure (password protected) networks. Never shop on public computers (such as those in libraries or classrooms).
  5. Beware of “phishing” scams. Thieves know that during the holidays, many people are distracted, making it easier to trick you into sharing private information online. Stay alert, and never provide any personal information via email. No reputable company will ask for information in this manner, including Triangle Credit Union.
  6. Keep mobile devices like smartphones and tablets locked with passwords, and do not store confidential information on them.
  7. Don’t leave package deliveries unattended. Thieves not only can steal the merchandise you ordered, but sometimes your personal information as well. If you can’t bring a package inside when it’s delivered, check with a friend or neighbor, or arrange to pick up the package from the delivery service office.
  8. Look over all bank statements, credit card statements and other bills carefully as soon as they arrive to make sure no unauthorized charges appear. If they do, notify the bank and/or biller immediately.
  9. Utilize your mobile banking app to check transactions frequently. Or log into online banking to review your transaction history and set up balance text alerts.  
  10. Activate your credit file monitoring service with IDProtect and check your credit reports to monitor them for unauthorized activity such as collection notices on accounts you have not used or new accounts that you did not open. ou may be aware that Wendy’s® fast food restaurants reported a data breach, identifying malware collection of customer data including, but not limited to, cardholder name and card number.

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