In addition to plain old wallet snatching, there are lots of digital ways thieves may try to access your information. You’ve probably heard of phishing (fraudulent email), but now you also have to look out for vishing (voice mail) and smishing (text message) attempts to gain access to your sensitive personal information. Each type of fraud is designed to get you to reveal your account numbers, passwords, social security numbers, and credit card numbers. Thieves are very clever so you need to be extra careful, especially during the holidays.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re shopping – online or in a store - for those perfect holiday gifts.
If you’re doing a lot of online holiday shopping, check to make sure the site is verified by TRUSTe and the URL begins with https://. Don’t be tempted to shop on a computer at the library or while you’re enjoying a coffee at your favorite café - only shop from your home computer with a private WIFI connection. And finally, don’t ever store your card information on a retail site – it may be convenient but it’s not always safe.
Crowded stores are perfect places for ID thieves to hide among all the shoppers. Before you leave for the mall, clean out your wallet and only carry one credit card so if it’s stolen, you won’t lose everything. Be sure to keep a written record at home of all your credit cards, account numbers, and phone numbers to call if they’re lost. When you make a purchase, always run your debit card as credit so you don’t have to punch in your PIN. And of course, don’t leave your purse in your shopping cart or a dressing room where it might get snatched or fall into the wrong hands.
What should you do if, despite your best efforts, your information is stolen?
- Contact all the financial institutions where you have accounts as they may need to be closed.
- If your credit card information has been stolen, contact the credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
- If you think your Social Security number has been compromised, visit IdentityTheft.gov and file a report.
Be cautious of posts on social media platforms that seem too good to be true, especially during the holiday season. They may present themselves as promotions or contests, offer you a gift card, and they may even be forwarded to you by friends you trust. However, be aware that these seemingly innocent offers may lead you to participate in an online survey designed to collect your personal information.
Remember, before you click on an ad through a social media platform, take the time to thoroughly investigate the legitimacy of the website. Protect yourself by ensuring its credibility before sharing any credit card or personal details. Stay informed and stay safe!
The faster you act, the better the chances are of minimizing the damage a thief might do. Call Hanscom FCU immediately at 800-656-4328 if you believe your account, credit, or debit card has been breached. Even if you're unsure, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Wishing you a safe, secure, and happy holiday season this year!
Learn more ways to guard against identity theft in the video below.
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