How to Keep Your Identity Safe During the Holidays

Posted on 12/02/2009

Retailers aren’t the only ones with booming business this time of year—identity thieves are cashing in too. Chances are you’ll be shopping online more this month and whipping out that credit card to make lots of purchases. That’s why it’s especially important to make sure your private information is kept private. Here are some tips for keeping your identity safe during the holidays, and if you're going away from home this year to visit family, be sure to check out the travel deals at the Ben's Bargains Holiday Travel Sales page.

Quiz Yourself - Take a minute to brush up on your identity theft IQ. There are some fun, informational games you can play at that will teach you a few things while you’re playing them. Check out the ID Theft Faceoff for a 3-minute crash course.

Keep Anti-Virus Software Updated - Make sure you have the most up-to-date anti-virus software. You can even download this for free from companies like Avast. They offer a free home edition for those that only have a computer for personal use.

Don’t Shop Online in Public - You’re a bigger target for hackers when you’re using a public Wi-Fi connection. That’s why checking your bank account balance or entering your credit card information to make an online purchase is a bad idea when you’re in public.

Think Before You Click - Phishing scams are extremely popular this time of year. They may show up in your inbox disguised as an email from your bank or another official source. The scammers will try to get you to “update” your account information, ultimately tricking you into revealing personal financial information. Before you click any link or offer up sensitive details make sure you aren’t falling for a scam.

Keep Credit Cards Close - Not everyone at the mall is full of the Christmas spirit. Some of the people there may be looking for an opportunity to steal your purse or wallet. Don’t look so tempting to pickpockets by keeping your credit cards and drivers license tucked tightly in a pocket. Zip up your purse and leave extra plastic at home.

Sign Up for Safety Alerts - The National Cyber Alert System was created by the Department of Homeland Security to help consumers like us protect our computers. Sign up to receive security alerts and tips about privacy, email spam and wireless protection. It’s a free service and you’ll stay informed about the latest threats and scams.

Shop on Secure Sites - Most major retailers do a great job of protecting your personal information. But before you enter your credit card information, look up at the URL. If it starts with “https” rather than “http” you’re good to go. The “s” lets you know that you’re shopping on a secure page and that the data is encrypted—not something hackers like.

Review Account Information Regularly - Keep a close eye on your bank account and credit card statements. Report suspicious activity immediately and you’ll be less likely to be a victim of identity theft this holiday season.

By Alison Storm

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