The holidays are about so much more than exchanging presents…it’s a time to reflect on precious gifts in our lives. Family and friends gather around tables or in front of the fireplace laughing, remembering and cherishing time together. This holiday season, while you eat, drink and make merry, make sure you protect what matters most:
- Your identity—you’ve spent a lifetime building your financial credit and professional reputation, but identity thieves can take that away in an instant.
- Elderly relatives—Scammers often target the elderly–especially around the holidays. In 2019, 37% of frauds were reported by victims over the age of 60.
- Children—Kids are frequent victims of identity theft. According to Cifas, the number of identity theft victims aged 21 and under in the UK increased by 26% in 2019.
What you can do to protect yourself and loved ones
Don’t leave thieves any opportunity to unwrap your identity this holiday season. Educate yourself about common scams and take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones.
How to spot holiday scams
Seniors are frequently targeted around the holidays which can be an especially hectic and emotional time for them. Help elderly relatives recognize and avoid scammers who may call or email, claiming to be a grandchild or other family member with an urgent issue that needs money to resolve the situation. Let them know they should be suspicious if asked to wire money or send gift cards; instead, they should call the family member in question or another relative directly to verify the situation.
Another scam you can warn your loved ones about—including seniors and kids—is the free gift card offer. Whether it’s an online pop-up ad or email notification, the Better Business Bureau says it could be a phishing attempt to steal your personal information.
Cybercriminals are also trying to lure consumers into too-good-to-be-true deals. Be sure your loved ones are aware of the traps including rock-bottom prices from unknown internet retailers or counterfeit goods. According to a recent survey, 1 in 3 toy-buying parents don’t know to watch out for unsafe counterfeit toys when shopping online—and would actually risk buying from unverified sellers just to get that toy their children really want.
Trust your instincts, guard your privacy
Train yourself to second-guess a suspicious call, email, text or link. You will probably receive more phone, mail and email solicitations from charities near the holidays. Always use caution with unfamiliar charities and do your research before sending them your hard-earned money. Remember that government agencies, banks, and credit card providers will NEVER ask you for personal information via email, text, or unsolicited call. If in doubt, don’t respond to the message in question. Instead, go directly to the organization’s website or call using an official phone number you looked up yourself.
To learn more about digital defense tools individuals can use to protect their personal information, contact your local Rural Mutual Insurance Agent.
 Federal Trade Commission, 2019 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book
 Fraudscape 2019, Cifas, June 2019.
 “1 in 3 Parents Don’t Know Counterfeit Toys are Lurking Online,” Toy Association survey conducted by Wakefield Research, November 4, 2019