The holiday season is in full swing, and by now you’ve likely seen the annual warnings, tips and advice geared toward protecting your personal information. This is certainly the time of year that offers many opportunities to the thief. But much of the advice given can be followed all year long for that matter, one of the best times to stay vigilant is right after the holidays, as thieves often wait to utilize the information they’ve stolen.
With that in mind, Kroll urges consumers to consider this season the “unofficial” kickoff to securing your personal information, and offers the following tips on data security:
- Scams abound 365 days of the year, but you might be more vulnerable to them during the holiday season. For instance, several phishing scams involve the lure of free gift cards, a popular holiday gift. Be wary of any offer that requires you to provide too much personal information. Another popular seasonal scam is the fake charity that may ask for all sorts of information. Many scams use high-pressure tactics to get you to take advantage of this “once in a lifetime offer” don’t fall for them. Independent verification of an offer is always advisable.
- Just as you would keep receipts from the stores, keep a record of all your online transactions. Check your debit/credit accounts daily and make sure only the transactions you’ve authorized have been registered. If you see any unauthorized transactions, dispute them with your financial institution immediately. If you haven’t received your monthly statement, call the financial institution to verify that no one has changed the address on your account.
- Secure your valuables when out shopping. Keeping personal information in your car may seem convenient, but it isn’t very secure. Many people keep a checkbook, driver’s license, employee identification and much more in their cars some not just during the holiday, but all year round. It’s best not to leave personal property inside your car under any circumstance, but if you must:
- Lock your car. Earlier this year, Nationwide Insurance reported that almost one-fourth of thefts from vehicles are from unlocked cars.
- Hide anything of value that you must leave in the car, but also hide items that might signal something more valuable is in the car, such as car chargers or cases for portable electronics. If you plan to go shopping at multiple locations, place purchases in the trunk before leaving the store lot so as not to draw attention to those items.
- Keep an eye on your personal information after the holidays, too. You’ve protected yourself during the hectic pre-holiday shopping season, but what about after? For many, the beginning of a new year is a time for reflection which also means checking your bank and credit card statements to ensure you don’t see any unfamiliar charges.
By Kroll Editorial Team