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Protecting Your Identity During the Holidays

December 16, 2011

Giving is the reason for the season.

While giving is one of the main focuses of the holiday season, we need to be careful about who we are giving too. Identity theft is at its highest during the holiday season. With that in mind, protecting your personal information should, as always, be at the top of your priority list.

Many of us are shopping in the malls as well as online this season. If you are going to be spending your weekends at the mall in search of the perfect gift this year, keep these tips in mind:

  • Take stock of what you are carrying in your purse. Don’t carry unnecessary identifying information. Try to keep belongings that you carry in your purse to a minimum; if your purse is stolen you will have the least amount of personal items inside.
  • Think about your method of payment. Credit cards often offer better fraud protection than debit cards. Cash is great because you don’t have to worry about personal information being stolen, but if stolen it is gone for good. If possible stay away from using checkbooks. If a checkbook is stolen, a thief can access your entire bank account.

Many of us will choose to do our holiday shopping online this year. If this is your preferred method of shopping, keep these tips in mind to help protect your identity:

  • Just as you keep receipts from brick and mortar stores, print your receipts from online transactions.
  • Never use a public computer or an unsecured wireless connection to make a transaction.
  • Practice smart shopping. Only visit reputable web sites and be aware of phishing scams.

Online holiday greeting cards are becoming more and more popular. E-cards are a convenient and fun way to take the hassle out of sending holiday cards. However, as these cards gain in popularity so do the scams that come along with them. E-cards may have malware and viruses attached to them that can attack the recipient’s computer and obtain personal information. If you choose to send e-cards this year, be sure they are from a reputable source.

Many of us will be hosting holiday parties in the coming weeks. If you will be hosting a party this year, take some time to think about securing your personal belongings. Often times the host and/or hostess of a party can become overwhelmed with the amount of guests, keeping the food warm, and greeting everyone that comes through the door. If you are busy with these tasks, there is little time to worry about who may be snooping in your bedroom or home office. Be sure you secure any personal documents such as check books, bank statements,  and social security cards in a locked room or safe. Take a moment to think about where you will put your purse or wallet as well. If possible store these things in a room that will be inaccessible to guests.

Many of us will be traveling to see loved ones for the holidays. If you plan on leaving your home for any period of time longer than a few hours, ask a neighbor or friend you trust to watch your home. Be careful not to announce your trip on social media sites as this can often be an open invite to thieves reading news and twitter feeds. If you plan on staying in a hotel while you are gone, consider locking valuables in the hotel safe and be sure not to give credit card information to anyone other than the front desk clerk.

If you’d like some added protection not only during the holidays but throughout the year, consider adding a pre-paid legal plan to your benefit offerings. Employee Benefit Advisors can help to get you and your group signed up for a plan that will help to protect you and your identity.

As always, thank you for reading. And, from everyone at Employee Benefit Advisors, we wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

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