By Katie Moore
GreenPath personal finance counselor
This holiday season will have the traditional masses of shoppers taking to area malls and stores, while many will opt to shop online from their couch. Whichever way you choose to shop, GreenPath wants to remind shoppers that identity thieves could be lurking, waiting for a slip-up and an opportunity to steal their identity.
Technology today goes well beyond pick pocketing or taking a purse. Identity thieves have so much technology at their fingertips to steal credit card numbers and build a personal profile on an individual. If you let your guard down, even for a moment, you could have your identity stolen.
5 TIPS – KEEPING YOUR ID SAFE IN PUBLIC
GreenPath provides 5 quick tips for consumers on protecting their identity this holiday season and throughout the year:
- Before you leave your house, take out the credit cards that you know you will not be using.
- Copy the front and back information on your card, so you have contact information quickly in case your card is stolen.
- Do not carry your Social Security card with you. That number is vital in opening new credit accounts.
- Watch where you leave your card when you shop. Don’t leave your credit card on the counter with people around. A simple click of a camera phone or good memory can capture your name, card number and expiration date. A thief can then use that number instantly to buy goods online.
- Keep your receipts in your purse or wallet, not in the bag. This will make it easier to track your merchandise spending and help you to stay within your budget.
5 TIPS – KEEPING YOUR IDENTITY SAFE ON-LINE
If you are shopping online this season, here are 5 quick tips to keep your identification safe:
- Always initiate the transaction yourself. Do not open a store’s website through a received email. Physically type in the web address of the outlet and look around carefully to make sure it is the actual website.
- When entering credit card information as part of transaction, make sure the web address starts with a secure extension, shown as https://.
- If you shop online in a public location, like at a library, make sure you log out and click the “back” button, when you are finished with a shopping session.
- Shopping at the coffee house? Use their approved, secure wi-fi server.
- Use your credit card wisely when shopping online. The added convenience of shopping from your couch might cause you to drop your guard. Be aware of your online surroundings at all times.
3 TIPS – CONTACTS TO MAKE IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF ID THEFT
GreenPath gives three contacts you need to make, if you become a victim of identity theft:
- Contact the three credit bureaus and tell them that you have been a victim of identity theft.
Equifax fraud division
Experian fraud division
Trans Union fraud division
2. Contact your creditors directly and ask to speak to someone in the security department. Freeze the existing account.
3. Contact local law enforcement and get a police report. This will serve as documentation that a crime has occurred.
It can be a time-consuming process to clear your name when you have been a victim of identity theft. By taking some preventive measures, you can ensure a smooth shopping experience throughout the holiday season.