You know you have a credit score, but did you know you have an insurance score, too? Or that bad credit can affect what you’re charged for various insurance products including car insurance, homeowners insurance and even health insurance? During the holiday season, holiday identity theft is more frequent than reruns of A Christmas Story, and not nearly as heartwarming. If you’re a victim, you may not see the damage for months when an insurance premium goes up or you’re denied coverage altogether. Protect your identity, your good credit and your insurance scores with these precautions.
Expecting a lot of packages? Along with losing whatever you’ve ordered, packing slips and order forms can contain sensitive personal information. Contact UPS, FedEX, DHL and other delivery services and give them specific information about where to deliver any parcels while you’re not home. The ideal choice is a trusted neighbor, but sliding a package through a dog door or just setting it on a back porch or somewhere else out of view can help prevent theft.
Shopping online this year? Obviously, you’ll want to use trusted sources that offer enhanced SSL security, which you can verify by checking your browser status bar for the locked padlock icon. The URL will also start with https, rather than just http. To avoid phony sites and other phishing scams, don’t click on email links to etailers. Enter the URL directly into your browser.
Periodically change your passwords, too. Choose a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols that have no relation to a personal birth date, social security number or names of children or pets. Rather than storing passwords on your hard drive, keep a list of them in a secure place, either locked up off-line or in a secure online safe deposit service such as www.MyVaultStorage.com.
Now is a good time to run your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs and download any software updates, too.
Sadly, a lot of holiday identity theft happens right under your nose at holiday parties. If you’re hosting a party, secure your personal data. Put password protection on computers and laptops; lock up thumb drives, filing cabinets and cell phones. Lock the door to your home office and bedrooms, too. You can’t keep an eye on every guest, and you don’t necessarily know your guests’ dates. You might even want to consider hiring a trusted teenager to be the coat and purse monitor for your guests to prevent a thief from pilfering their property.