You probably won’t see many people dressed up as identity thieves this Halloween, but don’t let their absence fool you. Identity thieves and scammers often strike when the public’s attention is diverted toward another matter, such as cleanup after a big storm, a health epidemic or a major holiday, like Oct. 31.
Halloween-related identity theft scares are real, possible and can present danger to you and your loved ones. Here are some tips to keep your guard up and ensure your safety during this year’s trick-or-treating.
Watch Out for Pick-Pocketing
Whether you’re with your children going door to door, at an adult-only Halloween party or observing your local fall parade, be sure your valuables are in a safe place and remain near you at all times. It takes just one unsuspecting character at the party to rummage through your coat pocket, and before you know it, your credit card is taking on astronomical charges or your identity is compromised.
Be Careful of Break-Ins
Halloween is tricky, because you’re literally opening up your door to strangers again and again. We all hope to see children decked out in their costumes smiling back at us, but in rare cases, a malicious stranger could be there. To reduce your vulnerability, don’t open your door at an unreasonable hour.
Also, if you’re not home on Halloween night, think twice before leaving a note on your door and a bowl of candy on your front step. This raises a big red flag to burglars that your home is vacant. If you’ll be away, ask a trustworthy neighbor to keep an eye on your home and inform you of any suspicious activity.
Don’t Fall for Halloween Scams
If you receive a suspicious email, phone call or text message regarding a costume that you never ordered or an event you didn’t buy a ticket for, don’t click on any links or share any information. This could be bait for you to share your personal data, like your credit card number or home address, which could quickly lead to identity theft.
Lock Your Car Doors
Vehicles parked in your driveway are easy targets on Halloween and the night before, which is known to invite pranks. Be sure you haven't left any valuables in your car and that your doors are locked.
Clear Out Your Mailbox
We recently shed light on a trend of identity thieves targeting mail, and trick-or-treating is a better time than ever for thieves to easily access mailboxes for financial documents and envelopes containing other personal data. Don’t be a victim to such a scare and clear out your mailbox before the night begins. In fact, it’s always good practice, whenever possible, to take your mail soon after it arrives and leave outgoing mail just before it will be picked up.
Don’t Keep Important Documents In Your Trash
Always shred documents containing personal data instead of placing them in your trash. Just as a thief can find the ticket to stealing your identity in your mailbox, the same can be said for your trash bin — and this holds true on Halloween or any other day of the year.