It’s never a good time to have your identity stolen, but it’s especially horrible around the holidays. Here’s information on how you can help protect yourself—and your identity—this busy time of year.
Don’t assume that your risk is higher or lower shopping online vs. in a store.
The most important thing to remember is that identity theft can happen anytime, anywhere—to anyone. The holiday season is certainly no exception. So whether you shop online or in-store, there are inherent risks to both.
Don’t give out your information to new, unfamiliar holiday charity campaigns.
Identity thieves prey on the holiday spirit of giving. Unless you are already familiar with a charity, or take the time to verify their legitimacy, this is an easy way for scammers to collect your personal information and money. Be more wary of suspicious phone calls and emails.
Don’t use the ATM at just any gas station, shopping plaza or boutique.
Every now and then you’ll hear a story in the news about a skimming scam. Skimmers are devices that fit onto ATMs, or similar machines that collect card information. One way to avoid these scams is to use ATMs in bank lobbies, or that have video surveillance. If an ATM doesn’t quite look right, don’t use it.
Don’t share holiday travel plans on social media.
Sometimes it’s difficult to contain excitement about holiday trips, home or away. But it is always wise to make sure your travel plans are revealed only to those you trust. Otherwise, you could be alerting criminals to an empty house.
Do make sure to put identity theft protection in place or make sure your existing protection is firing on all cylinders.
Having identity theft protection is always a great way to help protect your identity and keep track of your personal and financial information. That being said, it’s important to make sure you have all of your identity theft protection features activated, so your product is doing the best detect-and-alert work it possibly can.
Do keep an eye on your credit report to help make sure no one is abusing your credit.
It never hurts to check up on your credit report, especially during or following a busy purchasing time like the holidays. The more you know about your credit history, the better.
Do shred unnecessary receipts.
Receipts tend to collect in your wallet/purse/shopping bags, and sometimes the information on receipts can be enough for an identity thief to do some damage. Shred those receipts, along with any other junk mail or documents containing your information, on a regular basis.
Do pay attention to any data breach announcements during the holiday season—and all year round.
If you hear of a data breach that could impact your personal information, take action as soon as possible. Contact your bank to notify them of a potential data breach and ask for their direction on appropriate actions to take. If the breached company offers you a free identity theft protection product, take advantage of the complimentary offer and enrol.
If you think that you may be a victim of identity theft, contact Equifax immediately. It’s also a good idea to file a police report with your local police or RCMP and an identity theft complaint with Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Equifax is a registered trademark of Equifax Canada Co. used here under license. The preceding is for informational purposes only and may not prevent fraud and or identity theft from occurring.