As the holidays approach, so does the holiday shopping. Whether you’re heading to the mall in search of the perfect gift, or you’re skipping the lines to shop from the comfort of your home, it’s important to stay vigilant and protect yourself from identity theft. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe from identity theft this holiday season.
Avoid Unsecure Networks and Devices
As tempting as it may seem, avoid using your mobile devices to shop on unsecured networks, such as the airport, coffee shops, or a local restaurant.
Using an unsecured network for personal transactions puts you at risk. Secure all devices with a password and avoid entering any personal information onto websites, mobile apps, or emails while using public networks. Hackers can easily intercept data you have provided with your order, including credit card numbers, social security numbers, passwords and your home address, providing all the information needed to steal your identity.
Only shop at Secure Websites
It’s important to stay skeptical when shopping and making online purchases. Ensure that the website is secure by checking to see if the “https” is located in the address bar and avoid sites that use “http”. If you are unsure of the reputation of the site, do your research by googling the company before placing an order. Spam sites are increasingly popping up across social media platforms, tricking consumers into placing orders they likely will never receive.
Choose Credit over Debit
When making purchases, opt for your credit card over your debit card. Credit card companies offer strong protection when it comes to fraudulent purchases.
Although debit cards offer similar protection, money is immediately withdrawn once a fraudulent charge hits your account. Money taken from your debit card is often connected to a primary account used for daily transactions, while fraudulent charges on a credit card will only temporarily affect your credit limit.
Monitor your Credit and Identity
Getting yourself in the habit of regularly checking your accounts is an easy way to stay vigilant when it comes to your financial health. Logging into your bank account and credit card accounts every day, or every other day, allows you to quickly identify any unusual or suspicious activity. Alerts can also be customized and set up to your phone or email each time your card is used.
Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.
“It’s the fact that we’re not paying attention that makes the holidays so risky for ID theft,” says Eva Velasquez, CEO of Identity Theft Resource Center. As always, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you are paying for an item over the phone, be aware of who is near you, and go to a private location where you can ensure no one can overhear or see your credit card numbers.
Keeping track of all personal information is another key way to protect yourself. Carefully shred all documents that have any sensitive information. Do not throw away junk mail, credit card applications, or packing slips. If prompted with the option of a paper or email receipt, choose an electronic receipt. If an electronic receipt is not an option, wait till you are home to safely dispose of your receipts.
Space Coast Credit Union is always looking for ways to better serve and protect our members. Protect yourself from fraud by ensuring you are signed up for our free 2Way Text Alert program. All you need to do to is make sure we have your current cell phone number on file. You can check your information in Online Banking under the ‘Settings’ tab, by calling your local SCCU phone number, or by visiting your local branch.
SCCU offers multiple services to help monitor your accounts even when you’re on the go. Stay protected by signing up for Account Alerts through Online Banking and Mobile Banking. Multiple alerts are available, including daily balance and transaction alerts, overdraft alerts, and notifications when your account reaches certain limits. Notifications can be sent to both your phone and a current email address.
For more information on how you can stay protected in the fight against fraud, visit SCCU.com/fightfraud.