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Protect Against Holiday Identity Theft Scrooges

December is widely known for holiday festivities, but this month is also dedicated as National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month. Yes, thinking of identity theft may not be the jolliest conversation but with many of us ready to celebrate and spread some cheer this year, we want to provide some quick reminders on how best to protect your identity and avoid identity theft scrooges. Here are a few ways to stay safe from identity theft this holiday season.

1. Although it may make the checkout process quicker, do not autosave your information on a browser or a website. Storing your passwords or personal information such as an address, email, a phone number can be a high risk if a hacker ever takes control of your computer and gets immediate access to all your information.

What tends to go hand-and-hand with saving your password information, is avoiding reusing the same password across multiple sites. Cybercriminals are banking on this, and once they gain access to your username and password for one account, they may not stop there. Hackers use a method called “credential stuffing,” which means that they reuse stolen credentials from one database across hundreds of other websites to try and gain access wherever they can.

Protect yourself and avoid any holiday blues from these kinds of cyberattacks by, avoiding credential repetition and storing important information on browsers. Instead, manually enter your information and use a unique and complex password for each one of your online accounts. Nervous you’ll forget your passwords? Leverage a password manager app to help you out (many of which are free). These apps are essentially encrypted digital vaults where you can safely store your usernames and passwords for each of your online accounts.

2. To put up your best guard to deter identity thieves enable multifactor authentication on your accounts. Many providers offer this extra layer of protection, from social media platforms, your favorite mobile applications, to online/mobile banking for your financial institution. Setting up this additional verification makes it that much more difficult for you to become a victim.

In addition, set up account alerts with your financial institution. These alerts can vary from usage alerts to the dollar amount charged, to even if the card is being used outside of a certain mile radius. Want to know the best part? Most financial institutions offer account and card alerts as a free service within online and/or mobile banking! Check them out, set them up, and sit back and relax this holiday season with the peace of mind knowing your financial institution is keeping an eye out for you.

3. Monitor your credit. We know many of us will be doing some holiday shopping damage and may not want to face the music until 2022, but no one is a better advocate and protector of our credit than ourselves. Make sure to review your statements regularly and verify all purchases are yours. Keep checking in on your credit score to make sure any impact that is being made is done by you. To help avoid identity thieves using your information to open a credit account consider setting up a credit freeze with all three credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. No, this credit freeze doesn’t freeze your score from going up or down, but it can prevent anyone, including yourself, from opening up new debt in your name.

For more tips on best to protect your identity join us for a, Protecting Your Identity financial education session. Visit https://www.partnersfcu.org/education/  to view and register for our upcoming sessions.