Stay safe this holiday season!

According to Javelin Strategy and Research, 13.1 million consumers suffered identity fraud in 2013. That’s an increase of 500,000 from the previous year and marks the second highest level on record. It was also revealed that 44 percent of all fraud involved an online transaction.

“Internet scammers or hackers can easily access your private data, if you’re not careful. Citizens should make sure web sites are secure before entering any personal or financial information,” Williams stated.

In 2013, identity theft accounted for 14 percent of all complaints recorded by the Federal Trade Commission, leading the list of top consumer complaints.

Here are some tips to help keep you safe from identity theft and fraud this holiday season:

When paying by card:

  • Don’t allow clerks to put your receipts in your bag; carry them in your wallet instead where they are safer and less likely to fall out.
  • Watch cashiers, waiters and bartenders, ensuring that they don’t “skim” or save your card number for later use.

When paying by check:

  • Never allow merchants to write your social security number on the check. In many states, it is illegal.
  • Use a gel ink pen—preferably black—to write checks, which will permeate the fibers and make it difficult for the check to be cleaned and reused.

When shopping online:

  • Be careful of wireless internet connections. Only use those that require a security key or certificate.
  • Shop on secure, reputable sites only – https:// at the beginning of the URL indicates a secure site.
  • Never offer personal information, especially your social security number.
  • Leave suspicious websites immediately.
  • Read customer reviews before ordering.
  • Use a credit card and not a debit card, this protects your personal funds and prevents thieves from gaining access to funds in your bank account.

General tips:

  • Avoid carrying a social security card, birth certificate, passport, bank information or paychecks when hitting the stores.
  • Check your bank statements, credit card bills and credit reports often. This will help to avoid any efforts to use your identity.

Helpful Links

Mark Brown, Chief Information Security Officer of CenterState Bank