Avoid identity theft this holiday

Tips to help protect your identity

With the popularity of online shopping and the willingness to offer personal information in exchange for deep discounts, consumers are particularly vulnerable to fraud during the holiday season.

Smarter, safer shopping

Letting down your guard in search of the best deals can substantially increase your risk of exposing personal and financial information. The experts at Cadence Bank offer these tips to help you shop safely this holiday season:

  • Online and offline, you’re using your credit card more frequently during the holidays and are likely shopping on websites you don’t usually visit. A word of caution: If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Criminals lure shoppers with websites that look legitimate and offer unbelievably low prices. Ordering from one of these bogus sites means handing over your personal information to criminals.

  • When shopping online, always look for the “closed lock” icon on the status bar of your Internet browser. This means encryption is being used on the webpage you’re viewing and the information you transmit is secure. The icon should appear on every page of the site – not just the homepage. Also, make sure “https://” is listed at the beginning of each web address page. The “s” verifies the security of the site.

  • Consider using a credit card rather than a debit card when making online purchases. Credit cards have added protection through the Fair Credit Billing Act in case you encounter a problem.

  • It’s quite common to get shipping notices from delivery carriers when you shop online. Criminals take advantage of unsuspecting victims by sending an email that contains a link to a delivery alert, which can download malware onto your computer. Only use the tracking numbers provided to you in the initial email sent after making the online purchase. Or visit the merchant’s website to track any packages you are expecting.

  • Shopping offline also presents opportunities for identity theft, so pay attention. Once a store employee completes a valid sale, they could run your card a second time using a handheld skimmer or capture a cell phone picture of the card before returning it to you.

Incorporate these tips into your holiday shopping experience and stay safe this season. For more useful information about protecting yourself from fraud, visit Cadence Bank’s Fraud Information Center at cadencebank.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Cadence Bank

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