During the holidays, in addition to spending more money, we tend to be busier, more stressed out, and less careful than other times of the year. Identity thieves can and will take advantage of this to make sure your holidays aren’t merry or bright.
But in the spirit of Charles Dickens, here are some holiday tips from American Family Insurance to help protect your identity and make sure you don’t get Scrooged.
Protect your home.
Your greatest risk during the holidays is all of the extra people that come into your home. It makes it very easy to pocket a checkbook that’s on your desk or a brokerage statement in your filing cabinet.
“We’d all like to believe that the people we know wouldn’t steal from us,” said American Family Insurance Agent Judy Crawford. “Unfortunately, statistics prove that identity theft is committed by someone the victim knows approximately 30 to 50 percent of the time. I recommend that you shred every document you don’t need and buy a fire-safe to lock up your valuable identity documents. These safes make great gifts for people you care about!”
Use your credit card.
When you use checks or a debit card, the money is drawn directly from your bank account. If fraud occurs, it’s harder to get the money reimbursed and in the meantime, you don’t have the money to spend. Credit cards generally give you a longer period (ninety days) to catch the fraud before you are held liable. Debit cards generally give you thirty days.
Leave your purse at home.
Forty percent of all identity theft happens when a purse is stolen. So take a wallet that fits in your coat pocket or take your driver’s license and one or two credit cards and store them in your front pocket. If you must have a purse, use one that zips and hangs in front of you.
Watch your statements.
Most forms of holiday identity theft can be caught simply by monitoring your checking, debit, and credit card accounts frequently. By monitoring your financial statements, you will catch credit card and check theft immediately. Most financial institutions allow you to monitor your accounts online, which are fast, convenient and smart. Many financial institutions will also allow you to sign up for automatic account alerts when any transaction occurs on your account.
Give yourself the gift of identity monitoring.
It is impossible to track all of the ways our identities are exposed, so take a moment and call your American Family Insurance agent about the Identity Fraud Expense Endorsement. The endorsement is in addition to homeowners, renters and condo owners. The coverage helps protect against the high costs related to restoring your identity and good name in the event it’s stolen. This endorsement covers expenses such as legal fees, loan reapplication fees, notary expenses and lost wages due to time taken from work to restore your credit.
So treat your private information with care and you’ll be sure to have a safe and happy holiday.
For additional information on how to protect your identity and recover from identity theft, turn to American Family Insurance’s learning center. There you’ll find a risk calculator to gauge your risk for identity theft and other information to help you identify and recover from identity theft.
Judy D Crawford has been an agent for American Family Insurance since 2011. Her office is located at 101 Mountain Brook Dr Suite 100, Canton, GA 30115. She can be contacted at 678-880-4120. Visit her website for great insurance quotes and information. You can also follow her Facebook page for more great tips.
Based in Madison, Wisconsin, American Family Insurance offers auto insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, health insurance, business and farm/ranch insurance in 19 states. American Family insurance is the nation’s third-largest mutual property/casualty insurance company and ranks 393rd on the Fortune 500 list. Web: www.judycrawfordinsurance.com; Facebook: www.facebook.com/amfam; Twitter: www.twitter.com/amfam; YouTube: www.youtube.com/amfam.