'Tis the Season to be Wary Last Minute Holiday Shoppers can be Easy Targets for Identity Theft
FREMONT, Mich., Dec. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- With the holiday season reaching a frenzied pace as remaining shopping days continue to slip away, business seems to be on the upswing for everyone – including identity thieves who take advantage of the crowds and confusion to get a little something for themselves, your identity. Identity theft remains the top consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission which reports that more than 9 million have reported losses totaling more than $50 Billion. The average victim of identity theft spends 1700 hours clearing their name following the discovery of fraud. It can be a long, difficult, and frustrating process that can impact your finances for years. Fremont Insurance wants consumers to remember to remain vigilant to avoid becoming the victim of identity fraud.
"Identity fraud comes in myriad forms, and exposure is broad," said Kurt Dettmer, vice president and chief marketing officer for Fremont Insurance. "If you receive mail, surf the net, make purchases or pay bills by phone or online, or interact with anyone who gathers any personal information from you for any reason, you are at risk."
Fremont Insurance offers these 10 tips to help prevent identity theft during the holiday shopping season and throughout the year:
- Limit your exposure by only taking credit cards with you that you intend to use. If your purse or wallet is stolen, the impact will be significantly reduced if you only lose one or two credit cards
- Secure your mail, know your delivery time and collect your mail promptly. Deliver outgoing mail to a post office box or directly to the post office rather than leaving it in your home mailbox
- Secure sensitive information including social security cards, passports, tax returns, loan and credit card statements, unused checks, cancelled checks, bank statements, and keys to safe deposit boxes
- Check your credit reports with all three agencies periodically to identify any discrepancies
- Carefully review your credit card statements when they arrive following the holiday season. Notify the company immediately about any questionable charges
- Internet "phishing" scams masterfully mimic legitimate organizations. Do not disclose personal information unless you initiate the transaction and the website is secure: a lock icon on the taskbar, and the web address includes "s" (secure), i.e. "https"
- Avoid predictable names/numbers such as mother's maiden name, pet name, school name, nickname, birthdate, or phone number, for user names and passwords
- Make financial transactions by phone only with known organizations
- Question any requests that are made for your social security number
- Shred old information such as credit card statements
If you suspect identity fraud has occurred:
- Immediately close the affected bank/credit card accounts
- Call the credit reporting bureaus and place fraud alerts on your credit reports
- File a local police report, get a copy, and carry it with you; it may be needed to demonstrate that you are an identity fraud victim
- File a complaint with the FTC. Officials use the FTC database to investigate identity fraud claims.
About Fremont Insurance
Fremont Insurance is a subsidiary of the Auto Club Group, servicing the Independent Agents of Michigan. The company has been a Pure Michigan company since 1876. Dynamic Products, Exceptional Service, and Competitive Pricing have made Fremont Insurance one of the fastest growing and most respected companies operating in Michigan. For more information about Fremont Insurance you can visit the company online at www.fmic.com, find them on facebook at www.facebook.com/FremontInsuranceCo, or follow them on twitter at www.twitter.com/FremontIns.
SOURCE Fremont Insurance