Cook Wealth Management Group

This Holiday Season, Add Identity Theft Prevention to Your List

Credit Card SecurityIn simpler times, thieves picked your pocket or broke in to your home. Now they have more options. From dumpster diving for personal information to more advanced technological methods like internet fraud, identity theft occurs at an alarming rate. The Federal Trade Commission estimates 9 million Americans per year (including children) are victims of identity theft.*

During the holidays – a prime season for scammers – the rush to buy gifts often distracts shoppers and gives thieves an influx of opportunities. Amongst all the commotion of year-end festivities, you may not realize what’s been taken from you right away. Being robbed is horrific enough – the anxiety, the violation of your privacy, the loss of your valuables. Imagine realizing you’ve been robbed over and over again for months!

While some victims of identity theft may discover one or two incidents early on and get reimbursed with minimal aftermath, those who don’t notice soon enough must attempt to restore their credit history, a troublesome feat.

What You Can Do to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Be Cautious

  • Password-protect your computer. Consider your computer as you do your jewelry box – the information your laptop stores is often as valuable as your jewelry.
  • Shred documents that contain your personal information – instead of throwing them out, even ripped in half.

Be Aware

  • Subscribe to blogs like Digital Degenerate written by security analyst Fred Touchette that offer daily posts on the latest internet scams. One such post warns against clicking email links, particularly if you don’t recognize the sender.
  • Avoid giving personal information on pages linked from emails. (Scammers often design fake login pages that are convincingly similar in appearance to well-known sites like eBay or PayPal.)** Instead of clicking a link within an email, copy and paste the URL into your browser; if accessed this way, a link to a fake page will usually not work.

Be Proactive

  • Review your account activity each month; also check your credit report regularly.
  • For added security, consider signing up with a theft prevention company, such as www.lifelock.com or www.identityguard.com. These companies quickly notify you when suspicious charges are made to your credit card and remove you from dangerous mailing lists (pre-approved credit card offers make you an easier target for identity thieves.)
  • Learn more about identity theft prevention by contacting us at info@cookwealth.com or 1-888-852-8529. If you’re a Cook Wealth client, be assured that we safeguard all your personal information, making every effort to protect your privacy.

* “About Identity Theft.” http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/consumers.
** “Fakes: How scammers are targeting you this holiday season.”  http://www.walletpop.com.
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