Protect personal information over the holidays

by Wes Mayer

Identity theft is always a problem, especially around the holiday season.

Because of this, the Georgia Bankers Association has released a list of tips on how consumers should protect their personal information and finances and avoid having their identities stolen.

The first tip consumers should follow is to use all the tools possible to monitor their accounts, according to the banking association. This includes online banking, automated alerts and email services — consumers should check their accounts regularly, and if anything seems amiss, they should contact their banks immediately.

Consumers should also protect items which may hold their personal information, namely their smart phones or paperwork lying around their home. Phones should be locked with a certain passcode or password, and owners should know how to GPS track their phones or remotely wipe their data if needed. If traveling or away from home for long periods of time, homeowners should make sure mail delivery is suspended, and any paperwork with personal information should be shredded.

Online phishing may also be a big issue, according to the association. People should not give away any passwords or personal information through emails, or click on any links in emails from people or companies they don’t know. When making transactions online, shoppers should be sure the website’s URL contains “http” in the address to know the site is secure.

Consumers should also be careful while shopping around town. According to the banking group, when using an ATM, the first thing to do is be aware of your surroundings. Then, check the machine to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with and nobody can see your pin number. 

Finally, people should be wary of charity scams.

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