10:40 AM

Don’t let a grinch steal your identity

The holiday season is prime time for identity theft


Between online shopping and frenzied travel, the holidays can be a gift for identity thieves. Keep the season merry by following these tips to prevent identity theft. 

Between online shopping and frenzied travel, the holidays can be a gift for identity thieves. Keep the season merry and bright by following these tips to prevent identity theft:

Create strong passwords

Thieves love passwords because they're the keys to personal information. Use various passwords for different accounts, and include a mix of numbers, characters and symbols. Avoid keeping password information on phones, where a theft could expose them to the thief.

Be smart about updating passwords

Hackers are savvy about clever password tricks. Pair that with their advanced hardware and software, and simply updating a password regularly might not be enough. The best thing to do? See tip number one and create a really random password. Experts do agree that if an individual has the slightest suspicion he or she has been hacked, passwords should be changed as quickly as possible.

Check your credit report

Monitoring credit reports allows a detailed look at credit history. Once you get a credit report, which can be ordered for free once a year from each of the three national credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), go over it thoroughly to see if any fraudulent transactions or accounts are listed. If you do notice any debts that aren’t yours or accounts you didn’t open, follow these steps to report identity theft.

Review your accounts

Get in the habit of carefully looking over your bank and credit card accounts. If you notice anything suspicious, call your bank or credit card company right away.

Don’t over-share on social media

Steer clear of posting personal information. Thieves are hunting social media for easy prey, and unassuming info like an email address, birthdate and or even children’s names are used for scamming and account theft.

Shield your computer

Keep personal and financial information secure on computers with firewall, virus and spyware protection software. Just make sure they are being downloaded from a trusted source.

Don’t take the bait

Scam artists love to “phish,” which means they catch victims by pretending to be trustworthy sources like banks, stores, government agencies and so on. Most commonly, people phish others over the phone and through emails, but will attempt though regular mail, too. Legitimate companies don’t typically request information in this way, so ask questions when a business calls, and never give out personal information over the phone or email. Here are more tips on how to avoid phishing.

Be aware of credit card skimming

A “skimmer” is essentially a card reader that grabs the data off a card’s magnetic stripe, making it easy for a thief to create cloned cards or break into bank accounts to steal money. Always keep an eye on cards, or pay with cash. Skimmers can hide in many places.

Consider identity theft insurance

Identity theft protection coverage helps you get back on track when victimized by identity scammers. It’s a smart, simple and affordable way to financially recover and get support when needed most, especially when it comes to contacting credit reporting companies, law enforcement, etc. Contact an American Family agent to talk about how to add identity theft coverage to homeowners or renters policies.

Calculate your risk

Use this ID Theft risk calculator and discover the potential risk for being victim to identity theft.

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About American Family Insurance
Madison, Wisconsin-based American Family Insurance group is the nation's 13th-largest property/casualty insurance group and ranks No. 306 on the Fortune 500 list. The company sells American Family-brand products, including auto, homeowners, life, business and farm/ranch insurance, primarily through its exclusive independent contractor agents in 19 states. American Family affiliates (The General and Homesite) also provide options for consumers who want to manage their insurance matters directly over the internet or by phone. Affiliate Main Street America sells insurance products through independent agents and affiliate Ameriprise Auto & Home sells through partners. Web; Facebook; Twitter