While the holiday season is often referred to as the “Most wonderful time of the year,” it is also one of the most active times for criminals and crooks to take advantage of you. Whether they are poking around for your personal information over the phone or keeping an eye on your home to see if you’ll be traveling to grandma’s house, it is important to equip yourself with some helpful tips to keep you, your home, your identity and your family safe during the holidays.
1. Avoid New Age Scammers
“Scammers use many techniques to defraud consumers by offering too-good-to-be-true deals via phishing e-mails advertising brand-name merchandise, quick money-making offers or gift cards as an incentive to purchase a product,” the FBI warned Americans this November.
The holiday season often brings an influx of e-mail greetings and phone calls from distant relatives and friends and sometimes scam artists. All phone and Internet scams have one of two things in common: To obtain your personal information and/or to have funds sent to them.
Don’t let holiday spirit trump common sense. If you receive a phone call or suspicious e-mail that asks you to click a link to verify information, hang up the phone or delete the e-mail.
“Remember, if the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is and never provide your personal information to an unknown party or untrusted website,” the FBI says.
2. Shop with Care
According to the The National Retail Federation, approximately 127 million people shopped online this year on Cyber Monday. As many of us continue to do our holiday shopping online throughout the month of December, we can do a few things to help protect ourselves when making those online transactions.
Using credit cards instead of debit cards help significantly to protect yourself from online fraud or the dreaded retail store information breaches. If your card information is compromised you should call your bank right away and inform them of the problem. Strong passwords on retail sites where you make purchases also helps protect your account information.
The best part of ordering items online is the day that they arrive at your front door – and burglars feel the same way. Calling the delivery service and scheduling a time for drop off when you are homecan save you the headache or having your packages snatched from your porch.
3. Take security precautions when you’re away from home for the holidays
According to the FBI, almost 400,000 burglaries occur in the United States from November through December each year. The National Crime Prevention Council recommends that homeowners improve home security during the holidays. To ensure that criminals don’t dampen your holiday season, follow these recommended home security precautions:
Don't advertise expensive gifts to burglars by leaving empty gift boxes from your new computer, tablet or TV on the curb. Instead, break down the boxes and place them in large garbage bags to conceal the items that Santa has delivered. Better yet, take boxes directly to a recycling center after gifts have been opened.
Piles of unchecked holiday mail and newspapers can alert burglars to an empty house. If you're traveling during the holidays, it's a good idea to ask a neighbor to help keep up your home's appearance so it doesn't look empty.
Thanks to increased competition and advancements in technology, affordable and customized home alarm systems are more widely available and more effective than ever before. Security systems give you a peace of mind – and FTC has systems that can even be controlled from your mobile device.
By following these simple steps, you can help to ensure a safer holiday season for your family. Learn more about how you can enjoy security systems and Internet packages offered by FTC by visiting https://www.ftc.net or on Facebook. Happy holidays!