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Ways to Prevent Identity Theft So You Can Enjoy the Holiday Season

Credit card and padlock

As the holiday season gears up with a mad rush of excitement, fraudsters are also gearing up with excitement to steal your identity. Take the necessary precautions to protect yourself whether you are shopping online or at a brick-and-mortar store. Enjoy the holidays as they are meant to be, with peace, joy, and happiness.

Here are some steps to take when shopping online:

Shop on a secure Wi-Fi network. Hackers can hack into wireless networks and position themselves between you and the connection point to be able to gather key personal information, such a bank and credit card account information

  • Make sure your home wireless router has been set up with a complex password, not the default password that came with the device.
  • Do not use a public (OPEN) Wi-Fi network usually found in popular public areas. This is a breeding ground for criminals to steal your personal information.

Only shop at trustworthy online businesses:

  • Confirm that the site is protected with encryption; look for the padlock or an unbroken key at the top or bottom of the browser.
  • Purchased items with your credit card and not a debit card. If your debit card is compromised, a fraudster will have direct access to your checking account.

Be wary of online scams:

  • Pay special attention to communications that come from scammers pretending to be legitimate companies.
  • Do not click on links, open emails, and attachments from individuals or organizations you do not know.
  • If you receive communication from “trusted organizations” (financial institution, marketing outfits, government agencies, local law enforcement, and tech support companies) requesting personal information, contact them with the phone number you have, NOT the means that is provided in the communication. No credible company or government agency will ask you for your personal information via email or phone call.

Use social media wisely:

  • Be aware of what you share online.
  • Many times passwords and security questions overlap with the information we share online – birth dates, anniversaries, pet’s name, mother’s maiden name.

Steps to take when shopping around town:

  1. Use your credit card or cash to make purchases during the holidays.
  2. Protect your PIN. Be sure to cover the PIN pad when entering your PIN number at the terminal or ATM.
  3. Be on the lookout for card skimmers. They are small devices that attach to card readers. Skimmers will capture all of the information on the card’s magnet strip. The fraudster will use that information to purchase things online or to make a fraudulent card.

Identity protection is important year-round. Start protecting your identity with these simple steps during the holidays. As you are enjoying the shopping season buy yourself a gift, buy a shredder. Use the shredder to shred documents that have your personal information, including anything with your name, security number, account numbers, date of birth, and address.

If you have any questions, visit us online at or contact Service Credit Union at 800.936.7730 or International: 00800.4728.2000.