Every year, the local police put out a bulletin of holiday safety tips intended to keep you and yours safe and sound during the season. As we turn to e-commerce, however, we put ourselves at risk for more than just pickpockets. Every holiday, hundreds of people become victims of identity theft online as they use their cards to buy gifts from all over the web.
This year, we want you to have a happy and healthy holiday. That’s why our holiday safety tips are geared towards protecting you and your loved ones no matter where you go.
‘Tis the Season for Avoiding Identity Theft Online
Identity thieves don’t just target shoppers; they target anyone who banks online. To keep yourself safe from identity theft while online, try doing the following:
- Choose reputable shops. Even “Big Box” stores can get hacked, so choosing a reputable store doesn’t mean sticking with the same old places. But you should pick your online sites carefully. Many internet security programs have a feature which tells you if the site you’re on is secure. Also, choose a store with a secure check out, and one that requires you to enter verification that you’re a human being. The major credit cards also put “look for the padlock” at the top of their holiday shopping safety tips, because that little icon means your purchase is secure.
- Consider setting up one online card. You can open a secure credit card with a specific limit at any bank. Consider using a secure card for online transactions, to limit the amount of money a potential hacker or virus can access.
- Don’t give anyone your Social Security number. Ever. Any store that claims to need your SSN is either up to no good, or could be vulnerable to attack.
- Don’t put personal information on social media outlets. If you want to avoid identity theft online, make sure your social media is clear of personal information. Remove your address and your phone number, don’t “friend” or “follow” anyone you don’t know in person, and don’t discuss your travel plans.
Holiday Shopping Safety Tips for In-Store Purchases
No list of holiday safety tips would be complete without a list of ways to keep yourself safe when you’re not at home. Those who work in the areas of security, law enforcement and private investigations recommend the following holiday shopping safety tips for everyone:
- Avoid dark parking lots or alleyways. If you have to shop at night, bring a friend with you, and try to park near the lights.
- Keep your car keys where you can reach them.
- If you carry a purse, keep the closure as close to your body as possible.
- If you carry a wallet, keep it in your front pocket.
- Make multiple trips to the car with smaller amounts of bags, rather than one trip with multiple packages.
- Ask a security guard or police officer to escort you to your car if you feel uncomfortable.
- Report all suspicious looking activities.
- Bring only the credit cards you intend to use. Leave passports and Social Security cards at home.
- Avoid wearing expensive or flashy accessories.
- Try shopping during “off-peak” hours to avoid being crushed by crowds during big sales.
- Keep your cell phone accessible in case you need to call for help.
Even if your packages aren’t physically stolen from you, you could risk losing much more if you don’t know how to avoid identity theft while out shopping. By following these holiday safety tips, you’re protecting yourself from those who view the holiday season as a way to make a quick buck. Your safety and security should always come first, so that you can enjoy every part of the season.