November 9, 2017

How To Avoid Identity Theft During the Holidays

According to the National Retail Federation, it is expected that consumers will spend an average of $967.13 this holiday season – up 3.4% from 2016. Shoppers will visit a variety of retail stores and conduct some research online; however, 83% of survey respondents to a Deloitte study stated that they will be using their desktops and/or laptops to complete most of their holiday shopping. How does this impact you? If you shop online during the holiday season, you may be putting yourself at risk for identity theft and fraud.

In 2016, the rate of identity theft soared and hit an all-time high, affecting approximately 15.4 million consumers, according to Javelin Strategy and Research. During the holiday season, retail fraud rose 31%. According to the Bureau of Justice, two out of every three victims of identity theft loses money – the average individual lost approximately $1,341. What could $1,341 do for you?

While these statistics on identity fraud may scare you, there are ways to prevent and limit your risk:

Make theft difficult for criminals.

If you are shopping at a physical retail store, always check for a “skimmer.” Thieves place skimmers on card readers at ATMs, gas stations and some retail stores. Check the card reader for any signs of misuse or tampering and keep your PIN out of sight.

Use a credit card with an EMV chip at retail stores. Chips make it harder for hackers to make a counterfeit copy of your credit card and steal your personal information. Also, use credit cards instead of debit cards – depending on your individual bank, you may be able to recover funds more easily with a credit card than with your checking account.

Stay secure.

Be sure to check that the website you are ordering from begins with “https” in the web address, instead of “http.” Additionally, secure websites will display a lock in the web address.

Avoid shopping, checking email or financial information on public wifi. According to a study conducted by Symantec, approximately 60 percent of consumers believe their information is safe on public wifi. Think again. Your information is vulnerable to cyber criminals on public wifi. Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to protect your data.

Be aware of phishing scams, particularly during the holiday season. Criminals will use fake email addresses with templates from popular retailers to retrieve your personal information. Exercise caution when clicking on links and never give our your personal or financial information.

Always monitor your accounts and check your credit score. Some fraud may slip under the radar with small purchases, until several larger purchases hit your account. Also, make it a habit to check your credit score for any suspicious transactions.

Talk with your insurance agent.

Check your insurance policy for Identity Fraud Expense Coverage. At Providence Mutual, we offer Identity Fraud Expense Coverage as a standalone endorsement and as part of a discounted bundle of other vital coverage. You may receive up to $15,000 coverage to pay for expenses incurred as a direct result of identity fraud. Contact your insurance agent for more information.

The description herein is a summary only, and does not include all terms, conditions and exclusions of the coverage described. Please refer to the actual policy for complete details of coverage and exclusions. Not all insurance coverage or products available in all states and issuance of coverage is subject to underwriting.