Lines twisting through airports, buses packed with university students, and backed up traffic on every major highway – there’s nothing quite like traveling during the holiday season. When you’re sitting around a warm fire and eating turkey with family, it’s hard to imagine that anything can go wrong. Unfortunately, the holiday season is also a great one for identity theft. You’re traveling, constantly using your credit card to purchase things, and dealing with general holiday stress. Any one of those factors can make it difficult to protect your identity, dealing with all three at once makes it even harder.
The Risk of Identity Theft
In America, an identity is stolen every three seconds. That means by the time it takes you to finish this article, at least 15 people have had their identity stolen. Some people don’t see this as a big deal – that’s what insurance is for, right? Unfortunately, while various types of insurance policies can protect you, you’ll still have to deal with the aftermath. In fact, the average victim spends over 165 hours dealing with accounts that have been fraudulently created in their name.
When your identity is stolen, the thief will use the information to create new accounts – particularly credit cards – and modify existing ones. Clever identity thieves may go completely undetected, and it takes the average person six months before they learn that their identity has been stolen. By that point, their credit rating has plummeted and they run the risk of having their assets seized. Here are three tips to help you avoid identity theft this holiday season.
Track Your Important Documents
When you travel, you need to carry important documents. Your passport, your ID and your credit cards may all make an appearance on a longer journey. Unfortunately, each of these can be used by those looking to steal your identity. Before you travel, perform a routine check to make sure every important document is where it should be. Ideally, store these documents and items in the same place each time you travel – that way you’ll know where to look.
You wouldn’t go away for the holidays and leave your house unlocked, would you? Unfortunately, identity thieves don’t need access to your home – forget to tell someone to collect your mail and they’ll take advantage. Use video security to act as a deterrent – if you were a thief, would you try to rob the house that does have a camera or the one that doesn’t? Would you risk stealing the mail, knowing your face would be seen?
Check Your Credit Card Balance
Credit cards are a prime target for identity theft. If the thief’s goal is money, what better way than to steal someone’s credit card information right around the holiday season? Can you remember off the top of your head which stores you went to the afternoon you did all of your shopping? You need to keep your receipts and compare your online credit card statement with those receipts. Any discrepancies should be reported immediately.
Implement the above three tips and you’ll have an enjoyable and identity-safe holiday season.
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