The holidays are here, and that means fun and joyful celebrations for many people. But that doesn’t mean criminals are also taking a break from the grind of their daily life. In fact, quite the opposite: certain crimes spike dramatically during the holidays, especially identity theft. With more and more people choosing electronic forms of payment, it’s now easier than ever to have your identity stolen which could lead to fraud against you and many headaches trying to restore your life back to normal. To help you combat this issue, here are three common ways thieves steal your identity during the holidays.
Perhaps the easiest way to steal someone’s identity is to simply steal their identifying cards outright. Crowded shopping malls, open-air markets, and packed mega-stores are all great places for skilled thieves to make off with your credit cards, driver’s license, and other important pieces of information they could then use to try to defraud you. Make sure you keep your wallet or card clips in inconspicuous places at all times (not the most obvious, such as the back pocket), especially in crowded areas. Furthermore, if you’re paying with a debit card, shield your pin number and identifying information such as your driver’s license number so prying eyes can’t quickly memorize this important info.
Viruses & Hacking
Thieves with a sharper set of skills and computer familiarity will try to steal your information without ever having to leave their own home. More and more people choose to do their holiday shopping on the internet these days, and that means their information is passed along communication lines that could make them vulnerable to theft. The best thing you can do is to make sure your internet connection is secure and your computer is clean of malicious software like viruses, key loggers, and Trojan horses which are designed to steal this information and forward it to thieves, and you can do this using a simple virus scanning program. Never assume your computer is clean; always check to make sure (even if it’s a Macintosh—the rumor that they can’t get viruses is completely false).
Odds are you’ve probably received a modern credit card equipped with an EMV chip. You can tell because of the metallic contact pads located on the front that allow readers to access the microscopic integrated circuits that carry identity information. While many companies claim these cards are more secure, the often still come equipped with magnetic strips for backwards compatibility, and thieves with the right equipment (which is fairly easy to obtain) could easily steal the information necessary to fabricate your identity for fraudulent purposes. It’s strongly advised you keep your card in a money clip or wallet that features a reader-blocking material woven in, such as a thin layer of metal.
If you have been accused of identity theft, speak with a Bergen County criminal defense attorney about your case as soon as possible! Call Brickfield & Donahue at (201) 574-7919 for a free consultation.