Avoid the ‘Grinch’ of identity theft during holidaysPublished 11:00pm Thursday, December 13, 2012
In the holiday classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” the grouchy protagonist steals all the gifts, decorations and food from the unsuspecting residents of Whoville. It’s a brazen theft and one that leaves residents with nothing, or so it would seem.
But through a lesson in the true spirit of Christmas, and a redeeming change of heart, the Grinch returns the presents and the decorations. It is the classic happy ending.
Sadly, the Christmas season brings concerns about some real-life Grinch moments as incidents of identity theft increase at this time of year.
Authorities warn that residents who use debit or credit cards – and we all know they are well used, both in person and online – during the holidays, should take extra precautions to protect their accounts. Here’s some tips from the Troy Police:
• If you write checks, use only the necessary information, name, address, phone number. Never give your social security number.
• Safeguard your credit cards and checks as you do cash. Do not leave them in jacket pockets or sitting out in restaurants.
• Keep your purse or wallet on you. Shoulder straps should cross your body, not dangling from your shoulder. Do not lay them in a shopping basket. Be sure they are closed securely.
• Make a list of all your credit cards, debit cards and checks with account numbers. Keep the list in a secure place at home.
• Notify issuers immediately if your card is lost, stolen or misused.
• Take your time when making a purchase. Be sure you collect your license, credit card, or check book and your receipt.
• Keep your receipts and reconcile your statement. Promptly report any discrepancies to the issuer.
• Consider Direct Deposit of your payroll or benefit checks; it’s safe and convenient and prevents the theft of your checks.
• Check your accounts as frequently as possible to watch for unauthorized activity.
And, most important, remember that real-life Grinches have a multitude of avenues for compromising your identity, so make protecting it a priority.