12 Tips to a Happy (& Safe) Holiday Season
Throughout the holiday season, it may feel like your to-do list is ever-growing and things like balancing your checkbook may fall by the wayside for holiday shopping, baking or present wrapping. To help ease the stress of securing your identity while you navigate the last few weeks of 2015, Styles Checks and John Sileo have made you a fraud prevention checklist… now you just have to check it twice!
1. Pay attention to prevention! Almost every day in the news we hear about a new scam or data breach that victimizes thousands, or even millions, of Americans. You don’t have to be a statistic! You can significantly reduce your risk (and the impact) of potential fraud by increasing your awareness and taking these three simple steps.
2. Lighten your load! Did you know that 40% of identity theft happens because of a stolen wallet or purse? Before you join the crowds of others to shop for your loved ones this holiday season, review the contents of your purse or wallet and only carry what you need.
3. Buyer beware on free, public Wi-Fi. Even though it’s tempting to connect and shop the cyber sales from the comfort of public places, such as a coffee shop, the risk may not be as convenient. To protect yourself, ONLY use a secure, password protected internet connection or the data plan on your personal smartphone or tablet’s cellular connection when making online purchases or visiting sites that contain your personal information.
4. Cash, check or charge? While cash is the safest form or payment, you may not feel comfortable carrying a large amount of cash on your person. Rest assured you can also have peace of mind writing a check or using credit cards to pay for your holiday purchases. If paying by check, use a gel-based pen to avoid the risk of “Check Washing.” When deciding between a debit or credit card, keep in mind that if you pay by debit in the event of fraudulent charges, it can be a longer reimbursement process with the bank than with a credit card company.
5. It’s the season of giving… but don’t overshare!! While it is tempting to “check-in” at locations throughout your holiday travel, it can also let thieves know that you are not home. Consider turning off location services on your social media pages and double check your security settings, especially on Facebook, so only “Friends” can see your activity.
6. Secure your belongings during holiday parties. Whether you are hosting a gathering or you are attending a party elsewhere, be sure to secure your identity ahead of time. At home, consider locking all items of value in a safe or locked room. Outside your home, carry minimal pieces of identity in your purse or wallet.
7. Monitor your accounts daily. In the unfortunate event that your identity is compromised, catching it quickly is the key to reducing its impact. Take a few minutes each day to log into your accounts to verify purchases made are that of your own. Also, sign up for account activity alerts via email or text message and enable two-factor authentication, when possible.
8. Give the gift of identity monitoring! It can be a challenge to monitor every form of identity on a regular basis, so consider gifting your loved ones with identity monitoring services that will do the work for them… it will be the gift that gives all year long!
9. Shipping made safer. Having packages shipped to a home address when the residents are not at mean the package may sit outside for hours, often in plain view from the street. Instead, ask your loved ones to provide a shipping address that will have a person available to sign for delivery, whether it’s with a neighbor or at a work address, so your packages and personal information don’t end up in the wrong hands.
10. Vette the charities you support. In today’s social world, scams are growing by the minute, so it’s always best to exercise caution before sending money to anyone. Phishing emails, click jacking and distress scams are just three examples you need to be aware of.
11. Update your computer’s anti-virus. Having a strong defense on your computer can protect you against potentially malicious software. Exercise caution when clicking links in any emails or e-cards you receive and don’t be fooled by emails asking for your personally identifiable information. When in doubt, go directly to the source of the email in person or via phone.
12. Enjoy the holiday season! Here at Styles Checks, we hope that you found our holiday tips helpful… and we wish you happiness and health in the traditions you celebrate!