The festive season is not only your families most favourite time of the year, but it’s also the opportunistic thieves favourite time.

According to Manie van Schalkwyk, executive director of the SAFPS “The impersonation by fraudsters using real ID’s and names has increased by 99% on 2018 figures.”

The stats are depressing, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, there are preventative measures you can take to ensure you’re not a victim of identity theft.

In this blog, we focus on simples ways of protecting yourself from identity theft, which has become quite popular during this time of the year.

1. Be Aware Of Your Surroundings 

As cliche, as it may be, being aware of your surroundings, not only prevents something from happening but in the case that something has taken place, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how, when and who.

We’re not saying be a paranoid shopper in the malls but keep an eye out. One of the popular ways for thieves to still your identity is by getting a hold of your wallet. Most people’s wallets hold their ID’s, driving license and cards; all these have information about who you are.

Your handbag, laptop and smartphone are everyday items to you but are valuable assets to thieves. Leaving these things unattended or not being conscious of where they are is one of the ways of allowing yourself to be vulnerable. While you’re not aware of your surroundings, a thief is watching your every move and needs a split second to get a hold of your items so they can continue the shopping spree on your behalf.

2. Cash As Preferred Payment Method 

Yes, the digital era has turned us into a cashless society where we view debit and credit cards as the most convenient way of “carrying” cash and paying for goods.

Credit cards have stricter security compared to debit cards and are always trying to combat fraudulent activity. Credit card companies monitor suspicious behaviour and quickly pick up on transaction that may seem out of the norm for your account.

Debit cards operate differently in the sense that your every move is not being monitored; you can withdraw money immediately via the card, and you will have to be the one to notify your bank when a dodgy transaction has gone through.

More online shops are offering the payment method of cash on delivery. People are hesitant to input their card details on sites even though they may be secure; the thinking behind this is their details may be out there on the internet for hackers/thieves to retrieve.

Also paying for things cash is an excellent way of tracking your spending and eliminating overspending.

3. Be Unadventurous Online 

Whether it’s online or offline, criminals don’t rest. That’s why it’s so crucial for you to be vigilant as well when shopping online. Don’t click on links you’re unsure of and stay away from logging into your sites that have your personal information on random unsecured wifi.

One of the ways cybercriminals can get your information is by phishing. “Phishing is a cyber attack that uses disguised email as a weapon. CSO online describes phishing as “The goal is to trick the email recipient into believing that the message is something they want or need — a request from their bank, for instance, or a note from someone in their company — and to click a link or download an attachment.”

Watch the video to learn more about how phishing works.

You can challenge phishing by going directly on the website and not click on the link in the email. Also, be very wary of unfamiliar websites; most times, they have bargains that are out of this world, cybercriminals are not above creating fake or clone sites to get what they need from you.

Here are some tips to prevent phishing attacks, scams and email threats.

  • Trust your gut instincts. 
  • Set up two-factor authentication
  • Verify a Site’s Security ( look for the s in https://website.com and padlock. 
  • Be cautious with shortened links.
  • Enhance the Security of Your Computer. 

Whether you’re shopping online or at the stores, you can never be too careful. Your personal information is in so many things that you’re not overprotective over because you’re interacting with them on the daily.

Our smartphones hold so much of our information, we have banking apps, notes with passwords and scanned confidential documents that if they landed in the wrong hands so much damage could be done.

On the other, our handbags and wallets carry our whole lives, and once they’re lost, our lives get into complete chaos. These items carry so much information that could be to the advantage of thieves.

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