During various season throughout the year, many of us will be traveling on vacations and to share holiday time with our friends and loved ones. We laugh, shop, eat, attend parties and do whatever we can to bring joy the trip!
Below are a few “Helpful Hints” to protect you and your family from becoming possible victims of Fraud or Identity Theft. Also remember that Children are often victims of identity theft too – so check those credit reports for everyone in the family!
Make the Call: If you’re traveling during vacations or holidays take the time to let your credit card companies know in advance.
Air Travel: When traveling by plane keep all important documents with you in the plane. Never put them in luggage others will have access to when you’re not around!
Secure Locations: Don’t use ATM’s from any location except banks and reputable stores. This will help protect you from temporary and fly by night machines set up to access your sensitive information.
Shoulder Surfing: Those who either purposely overhear conversations or look over shoulders for information to “borrow” sensitive information. Take a few extra moments to protect credit cards, driver’s licenses and checks from wandering eyes.
Credit Card Receipts: Businesses must now truncate all but the last five numbers on credit card numbers on the customer copy of receipts. Place that receipt in a secure location in your wallet.
Credit Card Skimming: Credit card skimming occurs when a clerk slides your credit card through a second machine that scans the information from the magnetic strip and stores it until it is downloaded onto a counterfeit card. The golden rule is “Out of sight, out of control.” Information Protection: Shred any receipts you no longer want, especially those with credit card numbers on them. Lock up any documents with financial, credit or social security information on them BEFORE allowing guests into your home for that holiday party.
Dumpster Diving: We all get more mail than we can deal with at this time of year. Take the time to look through each envelope. Don’t assume an envelope contains a business gift card or advertisement. It may well be a pre-approved credit card offer or transfer balance check that looks a greeting card.
On-line Shopping: Keep a printout of the web page(s) describing the item you ordered, any email messages, and the page that shows the seller’s name, address, telephone number and return policies should you have any problems. Never provide a social security number.
In Your Wallet: Minimize what you carry with you. Leave extra credit cards, check books, deposit slips and debit cards at home. Debit cards are not credit cards: They are a direct link to your bank account. Debit cards electronically transfer money immediately. Don’t use bank cards, ATM cards or checks. Fraudulent charges are much easier to remove from a credit card versus a bank card.
What to do if you might be a victim of identity theft . . .
Those of us in the information security business talk about identity theft all the time. Identity Theft has risen 13% from 2010 to 2011. We thought it might be a good idea for our clients to have a check list of things to do if you feel you have become a victim. Remember: “THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE”. It’s just a suggestion on where you can start when you feel victimized!
Call the IRS and inform them you believe you are a victim of identity theft. (Often the way you will find out that something is amiss is when you don’t receive your refund check. It may have been issued to the thief who has assumed your identity).
Fill out IRS Form 14039 and fax or mail back to IRS.
Contact the Social Security Administration ( If you go to their website they have an Identity Theft webpage). If you contact them by phone they will tell you to contact the Federal Trade Commission.
Contact the Federal Trade Commission (877-438-4338). After you contact them by phone, you will be sent an Identity Theft Complaint Affidavit.
Contact your local police department and tell them you have been a victim of identity theft. Make sure you get a case number and follow up in a few days to get the full police report. Make sure you put that police report in your Credit bureau file.
Contact one of the three credit bureaus: Equifax at 800-525-6285, Trans Union at 800-680-7289, or Experian at 888-397-3742.Tell them you are entitled to make a victim-of-fraud statement that will be put into your credit history along with your police report.
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