With identity theft high during the busy holiday season, First Bank provides the following protective tips.

According to a recent online survey completed by The Harris Poll, nearly 60 million Americans have been affected by identity theft.* Identity theft is especially prevalent during the holiday season, as criminals take advantage of the hustle and bustle to steal your personal and financial information.

Protect yourself and your financial information during the holidays and beyond using these tips and keep your cards and information “wrapped up”!

  • Debit cards and chip security. Debit cards are much more convenient than checks, allowing you to get through checkout lines faster. However, always be aware of your surroundings and keep your card and PIN out of sight at all times. Identity thieves may resort to watching you enter your PIN – or worse, taking a picture of your card or a picture/video of your card and PIN entry with their cell phone.

    - Chip technology adds an additional layer of security to the safeguards that already protect your debit card. Each time you use your debit card, the embedded chip generates a code that is unique to that transaction. This makes it harder for thieves to counterfeit your card or use it fraudulently for in-store purchases.
  • Keep personal information personal. Snippets of your life are likely all over your various social media profiles. Hackers can use social media profiles to decipher your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings, enable Two Factor Authentication, and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, your mother’s maiden name, and more. Be wary of requests to connect from people you don’t know.
  • Beware of phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Never click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens within suspicious emails.

    - Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at spam@uce.gov. Be sure to notify the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email if you are familiar with that company or organization.
  • Empower the ‘smarts’ of your smartphone. Enable and use the passcode lock and “touch ID”/finger scanner on your phone and devices. This makes it more difficult for would-be scammers to access your information if your device ends up lost or stolen.

    - Always completely log out of apps or websites on your phone upon completing mobile banking sessions. Also, seek out trusted apps that can wipe your device remotely in the event that your phone goes missing or stolen.

Like Santa, make a list and check it twice.

In case your debit cards are lost or stolen, make a list of your card numbers and the contact information for each of them so you can immediately contact the card company. You should also consider an identity theft solution service that will provide an extra layer of coverage, as well as assist you in the event your cards are stolen. Ask your bank if they offer this service.

In addition, consistently shred documents or paper items that may contain confidential information. Simply throwing this information in the trash makes it easy for someone to obtain your credentials and gain access to your accounts. And, of course, never give anyone your personal information such as Social Security number, bank account numbers or balances, debit card numbers or PINs.

There are several great resources with more information on how to protect your identity including idtheft.gov, fdic.gov, and ftc.gov.

Every two seconds someone falls victim to identity theft. Don’t let identity theft rob you of your holiday fun.

*Source: Symantec Corporation