Protecting Your Identity During the Holidays

The holiday season is finally upon us. It is the only time of the year when we are distracted with family and friends coming and going, cooking, baking and shopping for holiday gifts. Unfortunately for us, it is that time of the year that identity thieves know the we might not be paying that much attention to our credit card and bank statements as we ought to.

The following are a few tips to help you have a fun, happy and secure holiday season.

  • Shop at Websites That You Trust: It’s hard to resist rock-bottom prices at a website that doesn’t sound familiar but think twice before entering in your credit card number. It may be a website set up by identity thieves to steal your credit card information. Consider only doing business with online retailers that you’ve worked with before.
  • Avoid Public Wi-Fi: It is tempting to take a break and use  public Wi-Fi at a coffee shop to complete your holiday shopping list. However, without much technical knowledge, someone else on the network can retrieve your financial information and go on their own shopping spree.
  • Beware of Email Scams: You may see an email with a “special offer” from an unfamiliar sender. The offer that sparked your interest might actually contain malware that could infect your computer with a virus. Do not open the email and if you do, avoid clicking on any links within the message.
  • Pay With a Credit Card: All cards are not created equal. Using your debit card instead of your credit card can have unfortunate consequences if the card number is stolen. If there are unauthorized charges on your credit card, federal regulations state that you don’t need to pay it while they are investigated. Most credit cards offer $0 liability for fraudulent purchases. Your liability for unauthorized charges on a debit card is typically capped at $50, if you report it within two business days. If there are unauthorized charges and you do not report them within 60 days, you might not be reimbursed at all.

Keeping these suggestions in mind will help you have a much safer season while you are enjoying your holiday traditions.