Protect Your Identity This Holiday Season

As the holiday season is upon us, take a few minutes to review these important reminders for protecting your identity and financial information. They will help ensure your season is both merry and safe.

  • Keep your information secure. Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information (your name, birthdate, social security number, or account number) by phone, mail, text or online.
  • Shop smart online. Before purchasing anything online, shop only at trusted websites and those that display a secure lock sign or URL that starts with “https://”. Instead of entering your credit card online, consider payment services such as Visa® Checkout.
  • Review your statements and online account history. Regularly review online account history, financial accounts and billing statements thoroughly to ensure all transactions are authorized. If you notice any unauthorized charges, report them immediately.
  • Always open mail immediately from your financial institution. You may receive important communications regarding your account that may require prompt attention, including confirmation of recent transactions or requested account changes.
  • Be careful when opening emails. Don’t open emails and attachments or click on links from individuals or organizations that you do not know and trust.
  • Keep your travel plans off social media. Sometimes it’s hard to keep your excitement about a holiday trip to yourself, but it’s always wise to make sure your plans are only revealed to those you trust. Don’t mention your travel plans or post vacation photos on social media until after your trip.
  • Watch your mailbox. If you notice that you’re not getting mail for several days in a row, check with the Post Office. Identity thieves can easily re-route billing statements and other mail to another location by completing a change of address form on your behalf.
  • Use caution if you receive a phone call from a number you don’t recognize. If you don’t recognize the caller, let the call go to voicemail. If you take the call, don’t answer personal questions and consider answering with a question like, “Who is calling?”
  • Check your credit report. It never hurts to check up on your credit report, especially during or following a busy purchasing time like the holidays. Visit annualcreditreport.com to receive a free copy of your credit report from all three of the nationwide credit bureaus- Equifax®, Experian®, and TransUnion®.
  • Be wary of solicitations for charitable donations by phone or email. Ask them to mail you a donation form, or hang up and call the charity directly.

The holiday season is a time to celebrate with family and friends. By exercising some extra care and precaution, you can ensure you’re not spending valuable time dealing with identity theft.

Resource: Federal Trade Commission (ftc.gov/idtheft)


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