How to protect yourself from theft during the holiday season


Are you aware that every single time you use your debit or credit card you expose yourself to the risk of identity theft? Since unraveling the financial and bureaucratic mess that identity thieves create is no fun, it’s wise to employ some strategies that will help you avoid becoming a victim.

Why do you need that? When shopping in person, be suspicious of any clerk who starts requesting too much information—like a zip code or your card's three digit security code—because they should get that information when they run the card. It’s a sign someone might be up to no good.

Check your credit report. The three main credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—typically offer consumers a chance to request a free copy of their own report every year. That means you can get a look at your credit activity every four months by dividing your requests among the three companies. For example, you could request a report from Equifax in January, then another from Experian in May, and finally one from TransUnion in September. That would give you three different checks at no cost each year. This will let you see what’s connected to your existing accounts, any new accounts that have been requested, and what new purchases people might be trying to make in your name. And there’s no reason you shouldn’t feel comfortable putting a credit freeze on your accounts if you know you don’t want any new credit being easily issued on your behalf.

Don’t advertise. Whenever you purchase expensive items, try not to dispose of boxes on the curb in a way that lets everyone see what you got. Fold the box inside out or remove the label so it won’t be obvious what was inside. Shred or cut up mail with your name and address on it before throwing it out—this is especially true for mailed credit offers.

Stay safe online. When shopping online, make sure the website you are on is a secure, legitimate site. Before you input your credentials, double-check that you haven’t ended up on an imposter site (with a similar look and web address) that’s intended to steal your login credentials for the genuine site. Use two-factor authentication whenever possible, and always use a different password for each online shop and service.

While keeping track of all those online credentials can be a pain, it’s a far better option than dealing with identity theft. And fortunately, Hideez Key can make it simple and easy by storing all your credentials securely, generating one-time passwords for two-factor authentication and online banking, and keeping everything physically separated from your main device for the ultimate in protection.