Steps to Preventing Holiday Identity Theft

The Federal Trade Commission reports that more than 9 million people in the United States are impacted by identity theft every year, and that the holiday season is the most common time of year when identity theft criminals strike.  There are simple steps you can take to help prevent being a victim of identity theft during the holiday season or any time of year.

ATM Safety

Automatic teller machines have become commonplace and have made it much easier for people to withdraw money from their bank accounts.  In fact, you can find ATMs in grocery stores, malls, convenience stores and even in hotel and restaurant lobbies.  However, many people become victims of identity theft due to ATM transactions.  ATMs can be tampered with, allowing thieves to access your account information.  Use only ATM machines at your bank, or at least a nationally recognized bank, in a lighted area.  Be sure that anyone waiting behind you cannot see the numbers while entering your PIN.  Take your receipt and card from the machine immediately.

Online Purchases

When making online purchases, be sure to use only secure websites to keep from being a victim of identity theft.   Be sure that the checkout page on the website is a secure site.  Check the website address to be sure the URL is https:// (rather than http://), as this indicates the site is secure. Purchase from reputable, well-known websites as they often offer buyer protection programs.  When paying your credit card bill, never write your account number on the check.

In the Store

When carrying a shoulder bag, be sure to secure it as closely as possible to your body to reduce the chances it might be snatched, which can lead to identity theft.  Zip all pockets and compartments in your wallet and purse to ensure items that could reveal your identity do not fall out.  Keep receipts in your purse and not in the bag with your merchandise.  Do not place your purse in the seat of a shopping cart and then leave the cart unattended.  Watch for anyone who seems to be standing too close to you in line, as some identity thieves can get information while looking over your shoulder.

By following these simple tips, you can better protect yourself from being a victim of identity theft during the holiday season, and during the rest of the year as well.  Independent Bank is committed to providing you with resources and information to prevent or mitigate fraud.  For more information about identity theft prevention or other benefits of banking with Independent Bank visit our website.


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