How to protect yourself from identity theft this holiday season

Whether you are at a crowded shopping mall or shopping online, the extra purchasing done during the holiday season can provide the perfect environment for identity theft. At TruStone Financial, we want to ensure that your finances and personal information is kept secure – here are some suggestions on how to keep your money safe this season:

BEWARE OF EMAILS

Common tactics around the holiday season are emails that appear to be from popular retailers, but instead have links that ask for personal information. With the amount of promotional emails received around the holidays, these malicious emails can get lost in the shuffle and filled out unknowingly. Never provide your information to an unknown source especially your Social Security Number, Date of Birth or other personal markers. Take an extra couple of minutes to review the email and if something seems suspicious, alert the retailer immediately.

CREDIT, NOT DEBIT

Rather than utilizing an account that pulls the funds directly from your account, you may want to opt for a credit card this holiday season – like the TruStone Financial Visa® Signature card. Not only does this card give you 1% cash back and no balance transfer fees, but it uses EMV chip technology to give you added protection on all of your transactions.

REVIEW YOUR STATEMENTS

If you typically wait for your monthly credit card or checking account statement to review your charges, you may want to keep tabs on your account more often around the holidays. That way, if you notice something strange you can report it more quickly. Keep in mind that all charges are important, not just the large amounts, so be sure you are double-checking any and all transactions.

WATCH FOR SKIMMERS

Before you stop at the ATM, it’s important to know how you can protect your ATM transactions against threats like skimmers. Skimming devices can copy your card information for thieves to replicate your card and make unauthorized purchases. So whether you see a ripped sticker or broken piece of ATM equipment, cancel your transaction and alert the financial institution immediately.

BE WARY OF NEW CARDS

Many shoppers are tempted to open new retailer-branded credit cards at the checkout around the holidays to snag discounts. The issue with this is that the application process often involves writing down or verbally giving out your personal information and neither of these options keeps your information confidential. Instead, ask if you can apply online through a secure website.

DON’T SHOP ON PUBLIC WI-FI

While it may seem safe to shop from your local coffee shop, it’s better to stay on your private home network. Hackers can access the information passed through public networks which could include your banking information. Smartphones and tablets aren’t exempt from this rule, if they are connected to the unprotected network your information is at risk.

‘Tis the season for giving, but it’s important not to give away your personal and financial information. Whether it’s choosing your secure TruStone Financial Visa Signature card or reviewing your statements more carefully, you’ll be able to avoid identity theft this holiday season with the tips above.

 

Editor’s note: Segments of this article were taken from money.usnews.com.