Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How to HUMBUG-proof your Holidays

From Margie Tann iSekurity
Source: Better Business Bureau

Don't let the Identity Thief Scrooge steal your holiday cheer. By taking a few simple steps, your holiday season can be filled with joy and peace of mind!

Here's a handy checklist to keep in mind during the holiday season and throughout the year:

Your Holiday Identity Theft Prevention Checklist

Travel Light
When out shopping or enjoying festivities, carry only what you need: your ID, one credit or debit card, medical insurance card, limited number of checks. Consider a neck pouch and carry wallets in front pockets. And NEVER leave your purse or wallet unattended.

Party Wisely
When out celebrating, keep your purse or wallet with you. Do not leave it in the car, in a coat check area or at your table while you dance or visit the restroom. If hosting a party, lock all of your financial and personal identifying information in a safe place-this includes laptop computers. Log off and turn off desktop computers. Always lock your car.

Take Care at the ATM
Go in the bank whenever possible. Only use an ATM in a well-lit area, and do not use an ATM if you see anyone threatening or suspicious hanging around. Keep your receipt in a safe place. NEVER give your ATM card or PIN to anyone else to use.

Protect Your Home
Consider adding lights and radios on timers so that your home always looks occupied. Install motion activated lights outdoors if possible. Turn on outdoor lights after dark. Do not display holiday decorations that block your windows or give burglars a place to hide while breaking in. Always lock your home and garage. Notify your local police department if you are going on vacation. Don't forget to let them know who will be house or pet sitting for you. When leaving home, secure your financial and personal identifying information in a safe place (including laptop computers).

Give Wisely
Make a charitable giving plan and stick to it. Do not donate to anyone calling on the phone or going door to door. If the charity is legitimate, they will mail you information. NEVER give your social security number to a charity. Check out a charity before donating by going to or

Protect Personal Information
NEVER give out your social security number, bank account or credit card account information or your passwords and PINS to callers or people who send you text messages or e-mails. Consider giving gift cards instead of writing a check. Take out-going mail to the Post Office to mail. Shred all documents and mail containing any financial or personal information.

Be Computer Savvy
Shop on secure websites that display the locked padlock image or include "https://" in the browser window. Use strong passwords. Shop only with sites you know and trust. Do not open e-mails from addresses you do not recognize or e-mailed receipts for merchandise you did not order. If receiving an e-mail asking for money to be wired to help a family member, friend or soldier; it is a scam. Do not wire the money without first checking out the request. Update your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs.

Protect Yourself at Faith Community Events
Do not leave purse or wallets unattended; this includes when going up to the altar, going for Communion or visiting in the Fellowship Hall. Use an envelope when making a donation by check.

After the Holidays
As soon as possible, check your credit card statements and bank account transactions to ensure that everything is accurate.

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