Five Ways to Protect yourself from Identity Theft During the Holiday Season & Beyond

Holiday season means consumers are on the prowl for perfect gifts. The problem is that identity thieves are also on the prowl and taking advantage of the busy shopping season.

In 2015 the Federal Trade Commission received over 490 thousand complaints related to identity theft, almost doubled from 2014. Identity theft and the associated spike in activity during the holidays impacts millions of people. According to the 2016 Javelin Identity Fraud report, identity theft cost consumers more than $15 billion in 2015.

The good news is that there are ways to protect yourself. Certain behaviors during the holidays leave consumers more exposed and at greater risk of identity fraud. Learn what you can do now!

    1. Conduct your Business with Institutions that Verify Identity

Taking the step online and in-person to verify an identity saves millions. Verification solutions range from fast and easy (show your valid ID) to cumbersome and time consuming (enter your password and answer 3 questions, etc.), but they are rapidly changing. It is in businesses’ best interest to adopt verification solutions that are fast and customer friendly, encouraging loyalty and trustworthy transactions. We are past the days when a password meant you were covered and manual ID checks by untrained employees were sufficient. Proper document authentication via a quick card scan, biometric matching via a selfie, fingerprint or voice to match a person to their ID- these are solutions that are available today to institutions of all industries. Find businesses that are adopting this technology.

    2. Don’t get lost in the Holidaze: Monitor Accounts & Secure your Smartphone

It’s easy to get distracted this time of year with a flurry of activities, travel and many transactions. All the more reason to be vigilant; monitor your accounts and make sure to report any unusual activity right away. Also, don’t discount the value of securing your device. As we move increasingly into a mobile world where your smartphone holds most of your life, why wouldn’t you take the time to safeguard these targets for cyber crooks? Apply software updates when they become available, use protection on Android and iOS devices, such as a passcode or biometric lock (fingerprint), and engage the ability to encrypt and remotely wipe the contents of the device in the event it is stolen.

    3. Mind the Data Breaches

One in five data breach victims suffered fraud in 2015, rising notably from one in seven in 2014. 2016 was unfortunately a banner year for data breaches. There was no shortage of major hits including the U.S. Department of Justice, LinkedIn, Snapchat and a contender for the biggest data breach to date Yahoo. Chances are, if you’ve ever had a Yahoo account, your information has been leaked.
The first step is to pay attention and update your security information on any site that has been breached. Follow instructions from the institution and keep up to date on recommended actions. Find out from the company what information was stolen, even if they tell you that your stolen information was encrypted. You might consider calling credit bureaus to alert them you are a victim of identity theft as well as banks and credit cards companies- doing so will lock your accounts and prevent further transactions.

    4. Go Private with your Wi-Fi

If we know that major companies are susceptible to hacks, you can be sure that your local coffee shop’s Wi-Fi is also a target. Best to keep any activities that require your personal and credit card information for secured internet connections only.

    5. Don’t be a Sucker for Scams

When it comes to suspicious special offers in your inbox and tempting links to click for crazy good deals, just say no. This is prime time for email phishers. Thieves are becoming more and more sophisticated using branding and names of trusted retailers to look like a legitimate source- mind the URL’s, when in doubt do not click! And never give personal information to an untrusted site or source. Scams can be related to shopping, false charities, and even utilities during the cold winter months, so be on guard!

    Identity Verification Solutions Help Businesses and Consumers to Transact with Trust

As hackers become more sophisticated, identity fraud is turning into a primary concern for consumers and companies alike. Companies should be showing consumers that they are taking measures ensure identity validation and document authentication.

Manually checking ID’s by untrained staff and comparing information from the document to the ID’s barcode doesn’t cut it today. Proper document authentication is a key investment for companies. An automated authentication solution can have multiple benefits including accurate information capture from ID’s for CMS and database management, streamlining staff workflows and preventing unintentional errors or oversights.

Companies should adopt layered approaches to identity verification: trusted authentication software to authenticate documents like driver’s licenses and passports and identity verification technology (that goes beyond passwords and knowledge-based questions that can easily be hacked) such as biometric options for facial, fingerprint and voice matching. Be sure that solutions are fast and customer friendly!