Stay in the Black by Protecting Yourself This Holiday

Phoenix. Nov. 23, 2012. Thanksgiving’s early arrival this year won’t dissuade millions of consumers from starting their holiday shopping this weekend. Unfortunately, it also won’t deter criminals from trying to steal consumers’ personal information. As a result, AAA Financial Services wants to help consumers not becoming a victim to one of the nation’s fastest-growing crimes—identity theft.

“While hunting for the best holiday deals, shoppers can inadvertently let down their guard, which can create an opportunity for thieves to take advantage of them,” said Mark Springsteel, treasurer and director of financial services for AAA Arizona.

According to the National Retail Federation, up to 147 million people plan to shop this weekend. To safeguard their personal information during Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the remainder of the holiday shopping season, AAA Financial Services offers shoppers the following tips:

  • Purge your wallet. Pare down the number of credit cards and other forms of identification in your wallet in case it is lost or stolen. Only carry the essentials, and keep all account numbers and phone numbers for those you carry at home.
  • Swipe safely. Thieves can use tools like skimming devices to steal your card information at pay terminals. Don’t use swipe devices that look out of place, always shield your PIN number, and ask the cashier to run your card through the register rather than the card reader, when possible.
  • Use sites you trust. Only shop with online retailers you recognize, and ensure you are at their correct site. Carefully type in the web address: Misspelled domain names or sites ending with unknown domain names can be dummy sites used to capture your personal information.
  • Shop secure. Before submitting credit card information, make sure the website is secure by looking for “https://” instead of “http://” in front of the web address.
  • Don’t go public. Don’t make it easy for thieves to retrieve passwords and personal information by using public Wi-Fi hotspots to shop and bank online.
  • Be smart using smartphones. Smartphone users are twice as likely as other cell owners to have their privacy invaded, according to the Pew Research Center. Before installing an app, read the fine print and consider the personal information it requires. Download store-specific apps and install security software that’s made for your phone.

Consumers can add an additional layer of security by enrolling in an identity theft protection service like LifeLock. This service alerts members to security threats; monitors use of personal information and even offers a $1,000,000 guarantee should a member become a victim of identity theft. AAA has partnered with LifeLock to offer its members a free 30-day trial and 15 percent membership savings.

To learn more about AAA’s consumer financial products and services, visit AAA.com/financial.

 

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.