Homeowners insurance blog

A Bad Combo: Black Friday and Identity Theft

Black Friday is a great time to find deals during the holiday season. Sure, it might be a little chaotic, but that’s just part of the experience, right? Whether you embrace it or despise it, Black Friday is coming and amidst the holiday rush, you should be extra cautious about protecting your identity.

Identity theft spikes during the holiday shopping season because many consumers are tired, overwhelmed by the crowds and in a rush to get everything on their gift list. The combination makes holiday shoppers less guarded about their credit cards, checks, or other personal information.

Don’t think you need to worry? Think again. During last year’s Black Friday, Target experienced a data breach that affected as many as 70 million people. The information stolen included customer names, credit and debit card numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and more. Since then data breaches have occurred at other retailers such as Michaels, Staples, and Neiman Marcus.

If you plan on being out and about this holiday season, stay on high alert. If you become a victim of identity theft, you could wind up with a severely damaged credit score, which can take months to correct. In the meantime, you could have trouble obtaining loans, other lines of credit, or even finding a job.

Although a standard home or renters insurance policy may have a limited amount of coverage for stolen money or credit cards, you might want to consider adding identity theft coverageThis add-on coverage is offered by most insurance providers and it typically helps with the following expenses:

  • Attorney fees
  • Lost wages
  • Costs for notarizing official documents
  • Costs for certified mail
  • Phone bills

While identity theft insurance coverage doesn’t prevent identity theft from happening to you or reimburse you for purchases made using your identity, it’s still a peace of mind protection to have in the event you do become a victim. In the meantime, you can follow these tips to prevent identity theft this holiday season:

  • Always guard your credit card when making purchases. When entering PIN numbers, use your hand as a shield.
  • Monitor your accounts regularly. Actively keeping tabs on your purchases can help you catch fraudulent activity before it gets seriously bad. Remember to always alert your bank if there’s suspicious activity on your account.
  • Keep the amount of personal information in your purse or wallet to a bare minimum. Never carry around your Social Security card.
  • Always take your credit card and ATM receipts. Never throw them in the trash.
  • Password protect your phone. Do this especially if you use it for electronic banking or keep other personal information on it. You should also install a security app that will allow you to wipe information from the phone remotely.
  • Be extra careful when online shopping. Always check to make sure you are using a secure site before entering personal information.
  • Shred or tear up all mail or documents with personal information. Otherwise, this can be an easy, inviting target for identity thieves to get your information and credit/debit card numbers.

Even the most careful people can become victims of identity theft, which is why it’s a good idea to have extra coverage. Make sure to bolster your security before the holiday shopping season gets underway in earnest.

Call and talk to your home or renters insurance provider to see what you current policy covers and to find out about additional identity theft coverage they might offer.