Don’t let a Grinch steal your holidays

Americans will spend an average of $805 per person this holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation. Eighty percent of those purchases will be made with a credit or debit card making consumers particularly vulnerable to identity theft. Protect yourself from Grinchy hearts that are “two sizes too small” and practice safe credit card shopping this year.

You are protected from identity theft — and might not even know it

Grinnell Mutual has partnered with Identity Theft 911® to protect FarMutual® homeowners and farmowners policyholders at no additional cost. If you fall victim to a credit card thief, expert fraud specialists will act quickly to lock out thieves with a free fraud alert to prevent further damage. You’ll also receive one year of free credit and fraud monitoring, plus follow-up. They won’t stop working until your identity is back in your hands — permanently.

Seven tips to safer shopping

Even though Grinnell Mutual has you covered, follow these safety tips to save yourself the risk and hassle.

  1. Save all receipts and online confirmation numbers. You can use these to monitor your bank account to help detect a purchase you did not make. Check your bank and credit card statements every day for good measure.
  2. Use credit cards not debit cards. Debit cards are the gateway to your bank or checking account, and credit cards offer greater liability protection.
  3. Only use online shopping sites that use personal information encryption. Links with “https” indicate that they have encryption protection in place. That’s a good thing!
  4. Be stingy when sharing personal information. Don’t store credit card and personal information in online accounts. Also, never send payment, Social Security numbers, or password information via email.
  5. Not all ATMs are created equal. Don’t use a secluded ATM to get shopping cash. They are more likely to be equipped with card readers or “skimmers” — a device that can secretly steal credit card information — than an ATM in or near a bank.
  6. Dodge the pickpockets. When shopping in stores and malls, safeguard your purse or wallet and your credit cards. Put your purchases in your vehicle’s trunk or at least out of plain view.
  7. Be mindful of holiday internet scams. The following notorious scams are created to con you out of your credit card information.
  • Emails claiming that you have an undeliverable package from FedEx, UPS, DHL or the U.S. Postal Service with links for details
  • Too-good-to-be-true deals
  • Discounted gift cards sold online
  • Bogus coupons
  • Counterfeit retailer websites
  • Suspicious social media giveaways
  • Charity scams

For more information

You don’t have to be a victim of identity theft to call for more information. Fraud specialists can help you take preventative measures now. Visit www.gmrc-idtheft.com or grinnellmutual.com.

Information from the Federal Trade Commission and OnGuardOnline.gov was used in this article.