Thanksgiving is practically here and that means the busiest in store shopping day is here, Black Friday. Most of us will be hitting the malls, shopping centers and department stores around the country. We will not be alone, identity thieves and thieves in general will also be out there hitting the the same places that we hit. Black Friday is a perfect time for low-tech gathering of personal information.
Don’t become complacent thinking that Identity thieves need some complex convoluted scheme to steal your identity. Low tech methods work quite well, and on Black Friday you need to be on alert for these low tech methods.
Pickpockets and purse snatchers
These are very old school methods of gaining your information (and whatever cash you have in your wallet), but it still works. Especially in a large crowd. A thief can snatch your wallet or purse and disappear into a crowd in a matter of seconds. Ladies, we all have a very personal safe that goes with us where ever we go. It’s called a bra and it’s perfect for stashing cash, credit cards and your ID. Gentlemen, forget the back pocket. A thief with a razor can slice your back pocket off and be gone with your wallet in the blink of an eye. Put your wallet in your front pocket.
Shoulder surfers can have a field day in a crowd. With people all jammed together in a limited space; it’s normal that people will be close, bump into you etc. A shoulder surfer can memorize all they need to steal your identity in a matter of seconds. If you are filling out a paper check or using a debit card with a PIN be aware of anyone who seems to be overly interested in you.
ATMs can be tampered with. Before using any ATM give it a quick once over if anything at all looks out of place-use another ATM. Identity thieves have several methods of tampering with ATMs from Attaching skimming machines that record the information on your card, to using X-ray film to steal your actual card. Look for items around the ATM that do not belong. These items may be concealed cameras placed there to record your PIN when you use your card. With the information on the skimming machine and the information from the camera a thief can clone your card. If you put your card in a machine and it does not work or respond, feel around the card slot, you might just find that a thin strip of X-ray film has been attached to the card slot. Whatever you do, don’t accept the help of the ‘good’ Samaritan. That person’s goal is to get your PIN number and once you leave thinking that the machine has ‘eaten’ your card, the helpful stranger will remove your card and use it.
Think safety and crime prevention. Use common sense crime prevention tips.
- Before you head off to the store, empty your purse or wallet of anything that you do not need. Don’t carry all of your credit cards with you and definitely leave the Social Security card at home.
- Make sure that you have nothing of interest visible inside your car, including those gifts you just purchased. Lock them in the trunk if possible.
- If you feel something is suspicious, report it to the store manager.
- If you are the victim of a crime, report it to the police.
Understand that identity theft spikes during the holidays just like burglaries and other crimes. Be aware that everyone is at high risk and have your response plan in place before it happens. LegalShield can help.