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The Grinch Who Stole Your Identity: Avoiding Holiday Identity Theft

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on December 01, 2015 10:12 AM

Just in time for Cyber Monday comes the news that identity theft is on the rise this holiday season. Yep, while you're ordering presents for your family, staff, and colleagues, some hacking Grinch is potentially swiping your information.

But, like all risks, holiday identity theft can be mitigated. Here are some tips to help lawyers and law firms avoid identity theft and other cybersecurity risks this holiday season.

1. Avoid Checks and Debit Cards

Cash is king and plastic is a prince, but stay away from checks and debit cards when you can. Since checks and debit pull straight from your accounts, recovering money that's been fraudulently withdrawn can be more difficult than contesting a credit card charge.

2. Watch Your Account Statements

During a busy holiday season, it can be easy to overlook you checking, credit and debit account statements. But now is the time to keep on top of them. Crooks often test out stolen information with small charges -- say, ordering a pizza online -- before selling or exploiting your information.

3. Make Sure You're On Secure Websites

If you're sending out private information, whether it's your Social Security number, credit card, or confidential communications, make sure the website has a URL beginning with "https." That S stands for secure, meaning your communications have been protected by an extra lawyer of encryption. Consider installing browser apps the will up your security as well.

4. Be Skeptical About Email

We know, staying on top of your communications is key. But don't be in such a rush to respond that you miss the warning signs of a phishing scam. Always be skeptical of emails asking for information, linking you to other sites, or asking you to download something. The same goes for unexpected phone calls asking you to confirm your identity by sharing private information.

5. Don't Use Public Wi-Fi

Want to upload that brief from the coffee shop or upgrade your hotel reservation from the airport? Don't. Avoid making transactions or sending confidential information over public wireless networks, as they could be vulnerable to hackers.

6. Invest in Identity Monitoring and Cyber Insurance

Cyberattacks can be disastrous for your practice, whether they result in the loss of confidential information or the ransoming of your computer systems. Investing in cyber insurance can help protect you from liability, while identity monitoring services let you put someone else in charge of protecting your identity.

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