We’ve gotten through another holiday season. Shopping was successful—but was it? Often January is a high time to discover that identity theft has been committed when you begin receiving your credit card statements.
But, there are things you can do to combat identity theft, and to even avoid it and increase your chances of protection. But in order to do so, you must first be aware of the risks out there.
Common Risks…and How to Avoid Them
There are a few risks out there that most never see coming. By understanding what risks there are, you are a step ahead of identity thieves.
1. Safeguard Your Passwords – When you are at your local Starbucks grabbing a cup of coffee or even in line at the store, avoid using any Wi-Fi hotspots to login to your bank account, social media, or even email. You need to guard your computer passwords at all time and only use secure connections to transmit information.
2. Private Information – There are plenty of online and in-store merchants asking for personal information. Ask them why they need it. For example, they may ask for your date of birth. If it is just for a loyalty card, decline to provide it. There’s no need to share your date of birth, address, social security number or mother’s maiden name while shopping.
4. Guard Your Card – Do not give out your credit or bank card information to anyone over the phone, in person or over the Internet unless you know exactly who you are providing it to. When shopping online, check the security of that website, research their ratings with the BBB, and make sure they are a company you can trust.
5. Spam – You probably receive a lot of spam emails for special offers, discounts, and more—especially during the holidays. These scam artists prey on those in a hurry to save money—and they may even appear as though they come from your credit card company or an online merchant you have shopped with before. Instead of clicking on the offer, go to the merchant’s website directly and look for that offer. Also, never reply to spam emails with your personal information—even if the email states they need to verify it.
6. Use Secured ATMs – Free-standing ATMs are convenient, but they are also targets for identity thieves and skimmers. Any identity theft lawyer will tell you to stick to bank lobbies or other secured ATM locations instead of free-standing units.
7. Only Carry What You Need – While it might seem counter intuitive, your wallet or purse doesn’t need to contain every credit and bank card you own—nor do you need to carry around your social security card. The less personal identification and credit cards you carry, the less worry you will have if your wallet is lost or stolen.
8. Watch Your Belongings at All Times – It might seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning: Never leave your purse or wallet unattended. Identity theft can occur even with someone you know and trust, which means even those you work with could potentially steal your identity.
Protecting yourself against these identity theft risks is imperative. It is one of the best ways to avoid any hassles at the start of the New Year, but also protect your identity for the long-term.
If you believe you have become a victim of identity theft after this holiday season or any time, then 2016 should be the year you get back on your feet. Consider working with an identity theft lawyer in Miami to help you reclaim your identity—and your life to ensure a financially healthy 2016.
Also Read : Are You Risking Your Identity By Making This Scary Travel Mistake?