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December is National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month – SDCCU Offers Tips to Help You Stay Safe

 

Tips detail ways to keep your personal information secure this holiday season

 
SAN DIEGO, Calif., (December 1, 2020) – December is National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month. San Diego County Credit Union® (SDCCU®), one of California’s largest locally-owned financial institutions, wants to help keep the community safe by providing some tips and reminders to help prevent identity theft crimes and keep you safe this holiday season.   
 
With a majority of holiday shopping taking place online this year, thieves are ready to strike and take advantage of consumers, making it imperative to practice safe shopping habits to protect personal information. Identity theft reached $16.9 billion in 2019, according to Experian. Identity theft can be an extremely time-consuming and costly process, but simply following the steps below can go a long way in keeping your information secure:
 
  1. Shop securely. Verify the site you’re shopping on. We’re all looking for the best deal to save money during our holiday shopping; however, making a purchase from an unfamiliar site could spell disaster. Avoid falling victim by sticking to sites you’re familiar with. Do your research if you plan to use a site you have never used before. Does it have positive reviews online? Have any of your family or friends used the site before? And remember, if it seems too good to be true, it could be an unsafe site.
  2. Use caution when clicking on links. Phishing is a tactic cyber criminals use to get people to click on links or attachments that appear to be sent from their bank, friend or family member, electric company, tax service or other legitimate organizations. Clicking on these links can give criminals access to your documents, and other personal information. Pay attention to spelling and other grammatical errors as well as odd email addresses. If it looks unusual, chances are it could be a phishing attempt. If you weren’t expecting the email, call the proposed sender and verify it’s from them. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.
  3. Use antivirus software. Make sure you have an antivirus software program installed and make sure it’s up to date with the most current updates available. Having antivirus software can help protect your computer and you from threats. There are many options available that are low-cost or even free that will add an extra layer of security for your devices and personal information.
  4. Verify your network. Be mindful of any public networks you are using. Cyber criminals can set up fake Wi-Fi networks pretending to be legitimate and track your browsing and any information you input. Make sure to log on to a secure Wi-Fi network. Resist using a public Wi-Fi network or, better yet, use your phone’s data to prevent anyone from potentially seeing sensitive information.
  5. Choose credit over debit when making purchases. The benefit of doing this is that credit cards provide more protection against fraudulent activity. If your debit card information falls in the hands of a thief, there is an opportunity to drain your bank account and you are out of the cash until the situation is resolved. However, most financial institutions have policies and procedures to help protect and alert their customers to fraud. SDCCU card members benefit from an additional protection measure with fraud text alerts alerting customers to any suspicious card activity on their account. That peace of mind helps make the holiday shopping a bit less stressful.
  6. Monitor your mailbox. Keep an eye on your mail during the holiday season. Your inbound and outbound mail has more personal information than you may realize. Make sure to promptly remove all mail from your mailbox, especially during the holiday season. Families like to send gift cards and other items of monetary value during the holidays, which leads to increased mail theft. Shred any unnecessary statements, bills and other personal information to avoid dumpster divers from accessing this information. SDCCU’s secure paperless services such as eStatements, eNotices and eReceipts help to minimize our customer’s risk of identity theft and fraud. 
There are many different ways an identity thief can take advantage of you and your finances. Following the above recommendations can help prevent this from happening and protect your finances. If you think you've become a victim of identity theft or fraud, act immediately to minimize the damage to your personal funds and financial accounts, as well as your reputation. Here's a list of actions you should take right away to protect yourself: https://www.sdccu.com/knowledge/identity-theft-protection-tips/. Visit our Financial Knowledge Blog to learn more tips on protecting your personal information, or join us for Financial Wellness Wednesdays, which will kick off again in the New Year.
 
SDCCU is one of California’s largest credit unions, proudly serving the financial needs of customers in San Diego, Riverside and Orange counties. SDCCU has assets of $9.5 billion, over 424,000 customers, more than 40 convenient branch locations and 30,000 surcharge-FREE ATMs. SDCCU provides breakthrough banking products that meet the demands of today’s lifestyle and delivers banking services that save customers money. SDCCU is leading the way, offering FREE Checking with eStatements, SDCCU mobile banking, mortgage loans, auto loans, Visa® credit cards and business banking services. Federally insured by NCUA. Equal Housing Opportunity. For more information, visit www.sdccu.com.