Keeping Your Holidays Happy and Fraud-free

Keeping Your Holidays Happy and Fraud-free

Yes, it’s that wonderful time of year. The holidays are quickly approaching … and at lightning speed! Will you be traveling to see family in the next few weeks? Or, maybe you’ll be skipping off to a great vacation instead of decking the halls? Whatever your plans are, having time off of work, fun with friends and family, and hopefully a few days of laziness … are wonderful to look forward to. But, when we are caught up in the excitement about buying those last-minute gifts (or sunscreen and new flip-flops), we need to remember that there are some other ‘things to do’ on our checklist to help keep our family and identities safe during this special time of year.

 

In addition to stopping the mail, finding that special neighbor with a green thumb to water your plants, and arranging for pet care for your fur babies, there are some pre-trip actions that you can take to help prevent identity theft from becoming a huge holiday memory. Just some small preventative measures, such as updating the operating system and antivirus software on your mobile devices, can go a long way toward fending off a few identity thieves. Below are some tips for what you can do before you leave home, as well as while you’re away and after your return.

 

Before you leave home:

– Password protect your devices and update operating systems

– Alert your bank(s) about your travel plans

– Visit your post office and put your mail on a vacation hold

– Keep the number of credit cards you travel with to a minimum and have copies of your driver’s license, medical id cards, passports and travel confirmation numbers at home in a safe place

– Turn off auto-connect Wifi and Bluetooth connections

– Consider adjusting your social media account settings so posts aren’t tagged with GPS data

 

While out of town:

– Avoid using public Wifi and even your hotel’s if at all possible

– Do not use public computers

– Keep your travel documents in a hotel safe

– Log out of websites on your smart phone and any websites if you bring a laptop or other device with you on your trip

 

Upon your return home:

– Consider changing passwords for your major accounts

– Thoroughly go through your account statements for any irregularities

– Check your credit report to make sure no new accounts were opened in your name while you were away

 

We hope you have a wonderful holiday vacation. If you suspect identity theft or fraud, please contact us immediately at 888.966.GUARD (4827) or email memberservices@guardwellid.com. Day or night, we’ve got your back and will always be open for you.

Scams, Scams and More Darn Scams

Scams, Scams and More Darn Scams

Did you know that there are at least 48 different types of identity theft and the number of scams involved in each is growing daily? Romance scams, residence scams, utility scams, employment scams, telephone scams, email scams, charity scams, Apple care scams, AirBNB scams, PayPal scams, census scams, ticket scams, government scams, medical scams, insurance scams, real estate scams, investment scams, lottery and sweepstakes scams … there really isn’t one facet of our lives that isn’t ‘scam-able.’ As the weather turns colder, it kind of makes you want to curl up under an electric blanket and hibernate for a bit doesn’t it!

 

Although everyone with a social security number is at risk for identity theft, there are two groups that are targeted more often: children and seniors. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has studied why. They explain, “Children are targeted to establish a ‘clean slate.’ Seniors are targeted over the telephone and through phishing scams. Some studies suggest that people become more trusting as they age, which helps to explain why it’s more difficult for older adults to detect fraudsters.”

 

The next high-risk group that follows children and seniors are the military mostly due to deployment, which impacts their ability to respond to a threat in a timely manner. According to the Federal Trade Commission, military consumers are most affected by credit card and bank fraud. Another high-risk group is identity theft repeat victims. As reported in Consumer Affairs, “people who have previously been affected by identity theft are at a greater risk for future identity theft and fraud.” According to the Center for Victim Research, “7-10% of the U.S. population are victims of identity fraud each year and 21% of those experience multiple incidents of identity theft.”

 

Lastly, the deceased are targeted. Stealing a dead person’s identity, commonly known as “ghosting,” will often go unnoticed by surviving family for months or years. A report dating from 2012 stated that 2.5 million deceased American identities are stolen each year. Of those 2.5 million stolen identities, 800,000 were used to open lines of credit or get a mobile phone plan.

 

Fraudsters oftentimes repeat their favorite most lucrative scams, which are driven by major financial life moments, such as taxes and holiday shopping. Yes, it’s getting to be that time of year, and, guess what … the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon, is seeing a huge increase in fake Amazon.com order cancellation scams. If you receive an email about an order cancellation from Amazon, there’s a good chance it’s a scam. Click on links in the email and you could unintentionally download malware onto your device. Or you might be sent to a site that aims to collect your Amazon account information, like your username and password. If you receive such an email and recently placed an order, go to Amazon.com directly to check your order status.

 

Most of our blogs offer tips to help protect yourself and your family from identity theft. There is one tip in this blog: Remain aware of scams and that they can touch every facet of your life. By staying in-the-know, you can help every month be National Cybersecurity Awareness month … not just October.

 

If you suspect that you or a loved one has suffered identity theft, please reach out to us as soon as possible. Our Guard Well member services team is available around the clock, every day of the year. Email memberservices@guardwellid.com or call 888.966.GUARD (4827) for help.