How to protect yourself from holiday identity theft

(WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – With just 16 days until Christmas, many are hurrying to complete their holiday shopping. But security experts say thieves are also working overtime: to get your money.

Experts say they do see a jump in identity theft and scams around the holidays. As we get closer to Christmas, things get more rushed, and experts say it’s easier to forget to be careful.

24-Hour News 8 gathered some tips from experts they say you should remember when you’re shopping this holiday season:

  • Make sure the website is secure when you pay online: look for the https symbol and/or a padlock.
  • Watch for look-alike websites. People may try to copy a website’s URL and make it similar, but not the same, in the hopes of distracted shoppers.
  • Shop with a credit card, not a debit card. That will be more secure.
  • Update your security on every device, and make sure your phone is up to date with the latest updates.
  • Watch for ‘phishing’ scams – people may send an email that seems to be from a shipping or retail company, but it could be a copy-cat.
  • Check your bank account regularly.
  • Use the new chip cards if you can this year, those are more secure than the magnetic stripe.
  • Be careful with E-cards: If you receive one in your email and you’re required to put in more information to open it, it may be a scam.

Tim Maniscalo, President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Central Indiana, says it’s imperative to be careful of all different scams this time of year. He says watch for any calls or emails asking you to give money, even to charities you’re familiar with. Call the charity to make sure it’s legitimate, or check bbb.org.

“Where we really see the increase, is in the charity scams. About a third of the money that charities raise, typically come this time of year,” Maniscalo said. “Scammers know that.”

Also this year, they’re seeing what they call a “Letters from Santa” scam.

“You’ve seen these letters that people will send to your children from Santa. A lot of times these are scams. People will say, hey, we can send a letter from Santa to your kids, but we need some personal information. That’s a scam out there,” he added.

The Better Business Bureau says someone will pose as a delivery driver at your door, holding a gift basket. The catch is, they’ll tell you they need a “verification fee.” They will scan your card and steal the info. The BBB says don’t give your credit or debit card to someone at the door. Asking for ID is OK, but not a credit card.

Also, check here on the Better Business Bureau’s website. They have a scam tracker that will tell you what has been popping up in your area.

Indiana’s Attorney General recently launched an initiative, called Freeze Identity Thieves. He’s asking customers to sign up for a credit freeze, so no one else can open credit cards in your name.

For more information on how to do that, click here.

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