(Houston, TX) - As shoppers snap up gifts and decorations, and people make travel arrangements for the holidays, they should take steps to protect themselves online and protect their homes during this busy time of year.
With credit and debit cards being swiped at the fastest rates of the year, there are multiple opportunities for ID theft both while shopping online and in the store. To prevent theft of your credit card or other personal information over the holiday, AAA Texas recommends:
- Stick to familiar websites that you know are secure. Don’t use a new website to buy something before checking consumer reviews, and make sure the site offers a secure web page for credit card transactions.
- Don’t shop online or access/type personal data while using an unsecured wi-fi connection in a public place or on a public computer. Hackers may be able to steal that information.
- When shopping at retail locations, don’t let your credit card out of sight when paying for purchases. Make sure your purse or wallet is secure at all times.
- Keep your smartphone in a safe place when shopping or out, and use a passcode lock feature if it has one. Thieves can access a trove of personal data by stealing an unsecured cell phone.
AAA Texas members receive two member benefits that provide identity theft monitoring. The free ProtectMyID® Essential provides basic credit monitoring of members’ Experian credit report, while ProtectMyID® Deluxe offers comprehensive daily monitoring of credit reports from all three major credit monitoring bureaus, plus many other valuable features to safeguard identities of both members and their children. AAA Texas members can enroll in ProtectMyID Deluxe by calling 877-440-6943 or by visiting AAA.com/creditmonitoring.
In addition to the possibility of ID theft, vacationers can be at increased risk of a home burglary during the busy holiday season. AAA suggests you add a few more things to your to-do list before leaving your house for the holidays:
- Remember to close and lock all house and garage windows and doors. Slide locks are recommended for sliding glass doors.
- Leave blinds and curtains in their normal position so that your house doesn’t appear empty. If possible, move expensive electronic equipment such as TV’s or computers away from windows where they will be in plain sight.
- Don’t post about when you will leave for vacation and/or where you will be going on social media, regardless of how excited you are.
- Ask a neighbor to pick up your mail or have the Post Office hold it. Remember to cancel your newspaper subscription while you are away too.
- Ask a friend to inspect your house regularly and ask them to turn the outdoor lights on at night or put your lights on a timer. Whoever is watching your house should have a key to your car in case it needs to be moved during an emergency. Also, let them know who may be visiting your home while you are away such as yard maintenance workers.
- Keep your valuables locked up in a safe.
- Never leave spare keys hidden under doormats, in flowerpots or anywhere outside the house.
- Make sure your home owner insurance policy coverage is up to date, by speaking with your agent, to ensure you have the proper amount of contents coverage to protect your belongings. Ensure your premiums are paid and that your policy is currently in effect.
- Don’t add personal information on your luggage tags. A thief may see the address and assume that no one is home. Use luggage tag covers or a business address or simply use your phone number.
- If you’re driving to your holiday destination, remember to keep Christmas gifts out of sight of potential thieves.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.