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Think Your Identity Is Only At Risk Online? Think Again

Data breaches and online identity theft may seem most common this time of year, but offline identity theft can also happen this time of year.

With so much emphasis on data breaches and online identity theft, it is easy to lose sight of other dangers around us. Online identity theft, especially during the holiday shopping season, is a real threat, but many identity thieves are working just as hard offline.  This time of year, it’s easy to get distracted from our whereabouts.

Here’s what you need to know about offline identity theft.

Mailbox Theft Is Real

Your mailbox will see plenty of holiday cards coming through this time of year.  Identity thieves routinely look for official correspondence, like letters from government agencies and credit card statements, many of which can get lost in the shuffle of decorated envelopes and wishes of good cheer.  Be sure to go through all of your mail and file away any sensitive documents.  Signing up for online delivery of bank statements and credit card bills can help mitigate risk. Don’t just discard the junk mail, either.  Make sure you keep a separate shred pile so the information is properly destroyed and out of harm’s way.

Wallet Theft, Credit Card Theft, and Offline Identity Theft

Not everyone does their holiday shopping online.  Brick and mortar stores are still a popular choice for consumers, especially for the last minute shoppers.  Always keep your wallet secure.  Make a list of the credit cards you carry, along with the account numbers and customer service phone numbers for each one.  Notify all the issuers as soon as your wallet leaves your sight, and pull a copy of your credit report as soon as possible.

Package Scams and More

You may get a card at your door saying an unsuccessful attempt was made to deliver a package to your home and that you should call a particular number for more details.  You may be asked to provide personal information that could be used for identity theft, or to give information that would let a thief know when you’re going to be out.  Keep a list of items you have ordered and all tracking information handy.  This will help you determine whether you are being scammed or not.

Also watch out for unexpected checks that arrive just in time for your shopping.  Most of these are bogus and will be accompanied by a request for you to forward part of the cash in a Moneygram.  Sometimes products arrive that you didn’t order, and you’ll be contacted later by someone who asks you to forward it.

While this is the most wonderful time of the year, be sure to keep a tab on your purchases, whereabouts, and mailboxes.  Keep yourself and your families safe, and enjoy the happiness that the holidays bring!

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Offline Identity Theft

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