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HOLIDAY SAFETY TIPS FROM THE FREEPORT POLICE DEPARTMENT

December 25, 2017

ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS BY KEEPING YOUR IDENTITY SAFE

You’re not the only one who is looking forward to shopping for the holiday. Thieves who can’t wait to get your credit or debit card information are also looking forward to it! And with expanded shopping hours and month-long cyber sales, there’s no time like now to read these tips from our friends at Maine Identity Services, LLC:

1. DO NOT USE YOUR DEBIT CARD
Your debit card can give a hacker an open door into your bank accounts, so don’t use it to shop. Under the laws that govern the fraudulent use of your debit card, you may lose some or all of the amounts involved if you don’t respond in time to the theft. And even the new computer chip cards won’t protect you if you are using it to shop over the internet.

2. USE A PRE-PAID CREDIT CARD
For online and in store shopping, consider using a pre-paid credit card. These can be quickly obtained and will not allow a thief access to your bank or other credit card accounts. Plus, a pre-paid card has the added benefit of letting you limit spending before you start shopping.

3. CHECK THE ATM AREA CAREFULLY
Tug on the key pad and the debit card slot to make sure that no skimming devices are reading your information as you enter it. Check the area around the ATM to look for what may be hidden cameras or other devices.

4. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR WALLET OR PURSE IN YOUR CAR
A locked car door is no protection from a thief who wants your checkbook or credit and debit cards. It’s always “shopping season” for these thieves who operate in organized gangs– so make it a practice never to leave these items in your vehicle – no matter how quickly you expect to return.

5. TAKE YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY CARD OUT OF YOUR WALLET
Your social security number is prized information for a thief because it can be used and re-used for repeated fraudulent activities. If you must carry the number with you, write the number on a separate piece of paper as if it was a phone number (place a “1” as the first or last number to make it appear as a ten-digit phone number.) In this way, the information will appear as (XXX) XXX-XXX1 instead of your social security number XXX-XX-XXXX.

6. CHANGE YOUR PASSWORDS
If you have favorite online shopping sites, make sure that you are using a different password for each one. Using the same password across all the internet sites you visit means that hackers only have to have your password from one site to be able to use your identity to shop on other sites or use your financial accounts.

7. RECORD YOUR CREDIT CARD INFORMATION
Write down the number of the credit card you will be using to shop, in case the card is lost – or worse – someone helps themselves to it by picking your pocket. Before you leave home, make sure that you have recorded the number of the card and the customer service number of the card issuer so that you can call immediately to report it as missing.

8. IS IT THE REAL WEBSITE?
It’s easy to be lured to a website for deals that sound too good to be true – and thieves are hoping that will happen. Make sure that any website you visit to make purchases is the real deal. Don’t open links from attachments; instead use your browser to go to the business’ actual web site to make your purchase. If you are still in doubt, either do not make the purchase (one less thing for poor old Santa to carry) or phone the legitimate store number and make the purchase via phone.

Maine Identity Services, LLC provides data breach and identity theft assistance to individuals, organizations and law enforcement personnel through its books, seminars and police materials. For more information about the company and its products, visit www.meidhelp.com or email: info@meidhelp.com


Happy Shopping from the Freeport Police Department!