The holidays often find us at our busiest, most stressed, least careful, and most distracted. They also bring a sudden, seasonal spike in the flow of goods, money and digital information through our homes and businesses.
Criminals know, and prey, on this — waiting to catch you off guard, while they make off with personal property or, worse, your identity.
Here are five types of theft to watch for, and a few things you can do to help protect your purchases, personal information, or business, this holiday season.
Safeguard Personal Information to Help Avoid Identity Theft
More than 13 million identities were exposed in the U.S. last year.1 Taking steps to protect your personal information, particularly during the holiday season, is key to preventing identity theft. Now and through the new year, be sure to:
- Monitor your credit report
- Review your credit card statements carefully
- Keep a close eye on your wallet and purse while shopping
- Carry only those credit cards you need, leaving cash, debit cards, and checks at home
Protect Purchases in your Car and Delivered to your Home
Travelers’ claim data shows that thefts from parked cars increase 20% more on Black Friday than any other day of the year. To help protect your car (and everything inside) from burglars during holiday shopping, it is best to keep all valuable items, including purchased gifts, out of plain site. Be sure to park in well-lit, safe areas, roll up your windows, and lock your doors, too.
If you are having packages delivered to your home, you can help avoid the risk of porch pirating by instructing drivers to drop them off in a safe location at a specific time, or opt to pick them up yourself from the nearest facility.
Secure your Business Assets and Inventory Against Theft
It should come as no surprise that retail theft increases during the holidays. But it may be shocking to learn that shoplifters only account for 11% of store loss, while employees account for 38%2. With an estimated 725,000+ temporary workers expected to be hired this year3, retailers should be extra vigilant to protect their assets and inventory through the holiday season:
- Evaluate daily transactions
- Review security cameras every day
- Conduct background checks on all prospective employees
Protect your Customers — and Business — against Cyber Crime
Online holiday sales for 2014 are expected to reach as much as $105 billion4. Having strong cyber security controls in place to protect your customers’ personal information is always important, but the busy online shopping season is a good opportunity to take stock of your risk management plan to ensure it adequately addresses:
- The level of sensitivity of the stored, digital data
- Evaluation of company systems, and policies to protect them
- Data breach incident response teams and procedures
- Restriction of access to only necessary employees
- Separation and protection of payment processing systems
Keep your Cargo Safe
All kinds of cargo theft — deceptive pickups, identity theft, misdirected loads, driver-involved theft, and facility burglary — increase during the holiday season. Taking a few extra precautions to help ensure shipments arrive at their intended destinations is the key to keeping cargo safe and secure. Remain on heightened alert throughout the holidays and be sure to:
- Check driver documentation and credentials closely before releasing shipments.
- Be leery of drivers arriving early for pickup, especially closer to the weekend, when criminals hope theft will go unnoticed until Monday.
- Ensure drivers are properly trained in on-the-road safety protocol — such as securing locking devices on trailers, not picking up hitchhikers, fueling prior to loading, calling for help if you see a disabled vehicle, and not discussing details about loads or pick up points with unauthorized personnel.