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Watch Out for Holiday Security Scams

December 15, 2016

By Benefits Team

According to a 2015 survey by Travelers Insurance, burglary and theft of wallets, purses and personal computers provide thieves the best opportunity to gain access to personal information.  What can you do to protect yourself?

Whether you are shopping the traditional way or avoiding the crowd and shopping online, identity fraud can happen to anyone at any time. However there are simple steps you can take to reduce your risk and make it more difficult for criminals to steal and commit fraud with your personal information. 

Follow these  tips/reminders on how to protect your identity during the frenzy holiday shopping season:

  1. Beware of unfamiliar sites selling sharply discounted items. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Steer clear of unfamiliar sites offering unrealistic discounts on brand name merchandise or gift cards as an incentive to purchase a product, as you may end up paying for an item, giving away personal information, and receive nothing in return except a compromised identity

  2. Create a list of your credit card and bank account information and store in a secure place. Include account numbers, expiration dates and credit limits. Also include the telephone numbers or e-mails of the customer service and fraud departments. If you find your card missing or stolen, refer to this list and immediately notify your credit card provider of the loss. This not only prevents fraudulent charges, but it also notifies your provider if the card is used again.

  3. Review your credit report now and after the New Year. One of the easiest ways to see if a criminal is fraudulently using your identity is to review your credit report. Report mistakes to the credit bureaus. Federal law gives consumers the right to receive one free copy of their credit report every 12 months from each of the three main credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion).

    Order a report today from one bureau and review it, looking for discrepancies. A couple months after the New Year, order another report from a second bureau. Four months later, order a report from the third bureau. Doing this will enable you to see snapshots of your credit throughout the year at no cost.

  4. Log off completely when finished with online transactions. Closing or minimizing your browser or typing a new Web address may not be enough to prevent others from accessing your online information. Click 'log off' to terminate your online session. And don't allow your browser to "remember" your username and password.

  5. Increase your personal computer's security. Personal firewalls and security software packages -- with anti-virus, anti-spam, and spyware detection features -- are a must-have for those who plan on shopping online this season. Make sure your computer has the latest security patches, and make sure that you access your online financial accounts only on a secure online page using encryption.

  6. Avoid e-mailing personal and financial information. Although your computer may be 'well protected' with proper firewall, antivirus, Internet security or encryption software, the individual or company receiving your information may not have similar security in place. Always confirm with online retailers that they have proper Internet security in place before responding to any e-mail request.

Consumers who suspect they’ve been victimized should immediately contact their financial institution and then law enforcement. They are also encouraged to file a complaint with the

regardless of dollar amount lost, and provide all relevant information regarding the complaint.

These measures are all-important and should be considered year round; however, they are especially critical during the holidays. Simple awareness and a little extra precaution can help to substantially reduce the risk of becoming a victim during the Christmas season.

Don’t let a crook steal your Happy Holidays!