"Might I have another lump of coal for the fire, Mr. Scrooge?"
-Bob Cratchit (Dickens' A Christmas Carol)
What in the world do we have to learn from Ebenezer Scrooge about protecting our identities during the busy holiday season? Plenty!
Scrooge was a miserly old git who wouldn't share anything - his coal, his wealth, his love. The ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future scared him into realizing that giving generously is what the holidays (and life) are all about. But the ghosts forgot to mention that as he donated his wealth, paid for Tiny Tim's medical care and purchased gifts for all of London, he should continue to be miserly with his personal information!
Distraction is our worst enemy. 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 take advantage of our distraction to perform information extraction. In the spirit of Charles Dickens, here are Scrooge's Top 5 Holiday Prevention Tips:
Protect your home. Your greatest risk during the busy-ness 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. Unfortunately, statistics prove that identity theft is committed by someone the victim knows approximately 30 percent 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 make great gifts for people you care about!
- Use your credit card. Don't use checks and don't use a debit card. When you use either of these forms of payment, the money is drawn directly from your bank account. If fraud does occur, it's harder to get the money reimbursed and in the meantime, you don't have the money to spend. When you use a credit card, nothing is withdrawn from your bank account. In addition, credit cards generally give you a longer period (90 days) to catch the fraud before you are held liable. Debit cards generally give you 30 days.
About John Sileo
John Sileo became America's leading Identity Theft Speaker & Expert after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To further bulletproof yourself and your business, visit John's blog at Sileo.com . To book John at your next event, visit www.ThinkLikeaSpy.com .
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