Tis The Season… for Identity Theft
The Holidays are coming! Smell fall in the air, Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks, Black Friday Sales, holiday travel, Identity Theft.
Gives you a nice warm fuzzy. Wait? Identity Theft?
Normally this newsletter is about protecting the home. True, but you cannot protect your home if you have been compromised.
In 2018 Identity Theft cost victims almost 15 Billion Dollars. It was down almost 1 Billion from 2017. That’s a lot of Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Christmas Trees that were stolen. Cybercrime costs the US citizen almost 4 times that of all violent crime. What’s that mean? As a consumer you have a better chance of losing everything and someone never breaking into your house.
You are not going to be a victim! Here’s How!
Credit Card Skimmers – When you fill up your car at the gas station, you see the little security seals? Make sure they are there. Look at the credit card machine before sticking your card in. The credit card skimmer comes in a number of shapes, sizes, and builds. Most are very small making them difficult to detect. Don’t use your debit card, or if you do, use it as a credit card. If there is a skimmer, it may slow the thief down long enough for your bank to catch the theft and reverse course.
Holiday Retail – Every year there are hundreds of transactions that go un-noticed until it’s too late. You are at a long line on Black Friday; you’ve been to 9 other stores, and then your credit card stops working. It’s common for banks to flag a large number of transactions and shut down a card. A simple phone call can get that card back online. However, watch the employees as you hand them your card as well. Most are going to be great people with no harmful intention, but in 2015 police arrested 80,000 US employees for stealing from customers. A vast majority of those had a second credit card scanner that they ran the card through before swiping the actual scanner. The smart chip on credit cards are preventing this, but be watchful.
Airport Charging Stations – What? How can this be Identity Theft? It’s called Juice-Jacking. We keep all of our lives on our phones. Thieves have figured out a way to steal everything from phones by putting data-stealing malware on while you charge your phone at that public USB charge port. As you travel this season, invest in a battery pack that you can charge your phone and you control the data on and off the phone.
Protect Your Device – If you are using your phone and don’t have a battery, or it’s now dead, you can also use a “USB Condom”. Yep, that’s the official name. Google it. They are less than $10 on Amazon. This device blocks the data wires from the USB providing charge only.
The Holidays are here and you deserve to have your identity be yours and no one else’s. Protect it. Slow down and make sure you are not the next victim. If it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t.