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Protect Your Identity This Holiday Season

Amidst the hustle and bustle leading up to the holidays, it’s easy to get caught up in the shopping frenzy. The feeling is all too familiar—where the main concerns become making it to the right shops in time, getting our hands on the right gifts, and making it out before we’ve spent too much money. As you hop from store to store, you’re probably watching your accounts to make sure your purchases are still within budget. But there’s more to keep an eye on … like protecting your identity.

In 2016 alone the Federal Trade Commission received more than 3 million reports from victims of identity theft. Additionally, experts suggest that there is a rise in identity theft around the holidays because there are more opportunities for thefts to occur unnoticed. Pickpockets and other identity criminals are in full force during the holidays … and they are everywhere. While staying a few steps ahead of them is critical, having the right plan of attack is equally important in the event something slips through the cracks. Thankfully, the team at the GEICO Insurance Agency can help with Identity Theft Protection designed to prevent, detect, and resolve fraudulent activity.

Chances are, you’ve been advised to destroy old paper documents that contain sensitive information, and to do so in a secure environment. The truth is, we live in a digital age, and by shredding documents containing personal information, you’re really just scratching the surface.

Make your holiday season safe and enjoyable by following these helpful tips wherever you are.


Out in Public

Crowded malls and sidewalks provide ample opportunities for thieves to nab your wallet and bank cards, not to mention other personal information. While you’re out and about, remember:


Cell Phone Security

When you want to compare prices or check your bank accounts on the go, it’s nice to know that because of today’s smartphones, you have the world at your fingertips. Remember, just because you’re the only one that uses your smartphone, doesn’t mean it’s not susceptible to prying eyes. Sticking to a few rules of thumb will help keep your personal information personal:


Online

Shopping online from the comfort of home or from a cozy coffee shop has become a favorite way to shop. And why not, when you can avoid the long lines and traffic altogether? Shopping this way can be extremely convenient, but you should remain cautious. The internet can be an open range for savvy identity thieves to prey on vulnerable customers, especially when credit information and other sensitive data are constantly being sent electronically. Here are some tips to keep in mind before browsing the web for holiday deals:


At Home

You can be susceptible to identity theft even in the privacy of your home. An identity crook needs little more than your Social Security number, bank information, or a pre-approved credit application to steal your identity. Here are a few ways to safeguard your personal information while at home:

Mail

Your inbound and outbound mail has more personal information than you may realize. To protect yourself, always be sure to:

Phone calls

The holidays are a common time for charities to ask for donations over the phone.  But not all calls are from legitimate sources. An identity thief could pretend to be soliciting a donation for a charity, or act as a representative from your credit card company. Never give out your financial information over the phone when someone calls you. If you’d like to make a donation, contact the organization yourself to ensure your gift is getting to those it was intended for.


Go into this holiday season protected, so you can spend it enjoying things that bring you joy instead. Safeguard your credit and identity with GEICO Portfolio Identity Protection from Generali Global Assistance, Inc. Plans begin as low as $7.99/month or $79 annually.

By Steven Scott