The holiday season is a time of joy and sharing. We gather with our loved ones to exchange gifts, swap stories, and break bread. However, as we embrace the spirit of giving, there's one aspect of our lives that we must cling to: our identity.
There’s nothing wrong with sharing a jacket with your cousin when it gets chilly, spilling the beans to grandma on the secret to your world-famous mac and cheese, or even letting your nephew borrow your phone charger so he can game rather than engage in awkward family discussions.
However, there are certain things that you should consider keeping to yourself when your family gathers around the dinner table this year. It’s not to be rude, it’s just to be safe, and ensure that your identity isn’t snatched up faster than the last slice of pie. So, let's cover some information that is often shared during the holidays, point out the underlying dangers with each, and serve up some tips for you to stay better protected.
Streaming password fiasco
What is one activity almost every family across the country can agree upon (besides chowing down on a hot meal)? Watching a movie or show together. Sure, reliving your childhood favorites can bring you all closer together. But when everyone starts to disperse, and your favorite cousin asks for your account password because they can't afford to pay for it themselves, you may want to think twice about that.
A recent survey from Reviews.org found that over 85% of Americans share their Netflix password with other people, which is the highest percentage among all streaming services. The next most shared platforms are Hulu (51%), Amazon Prime Video (44%), Max (36%), and Peacock (26%).
So, why is sharing your streaming password not the best idea? Whoever you give this info to may then be able to access your billing information and personal data. Not only this, but they may share your password with another friend without your knowledge or permission.
There’s no harm in just one more person having access to your account, right? Not quite. All it takes is for your name and password to wind up in the digital hands of the wrong moocher. If you happen to use the same password for streaming as you do to access your financial information, your credit card info and even your identity could wind up stolen.
Quick tip: Set up a separate guest network with a unique password for visitors. This way, you can maintain control over your primary network, safeguarding your data from unwanted intrusion.
Oversharing on social media
Sometimes, instead of meeting at the same house and eating the same old grub, families will take a trip or vacation together for the holidays to get away from the hustle and bustle. If you ever find yourself climbing up a mountain or even skiing down one, it can be very tempting to snap loads of pics and share them with your friends through social media. However, you may be sharing more than you bargained for.
Depending on the type of photos you post online, identity thieves may potentially gather information on you. A photo posted on your birthday gives away your date of birth. A photo of your new home or car may give away your address and license plate number. Even a harmless family photo could give cybercriminals enough info to try and scam you or your loved ones.
Oh, and if someone at the holiday function does happen to yell out “Group selfie!”, you may want to avoid throwing up the peace sign because scientists have also discovered that it’s possible to recreate copies of your fingerprints using these photos, which would make it much easier to steal your identity.
Quick tip: Social media is a fun way to keep in touch with family and friends. But there are also scammers and creeps lurking around every digital corner. Be sure to review each social media app's privacy settings and ensure that only your trusted contacts can see the photos you share.
If your photos are shared with the public, review them carefully before posting to ensure they don’t contain personal info.
A serving of pie and PII
Sadly, we’re not talking about pecan pie, pumpkin pie, or even 3.14. No, PII is your personally identifiable information. This includes your name, social security number, driver’s license number, bank account info, passport, phone number, or email address. And if a cybercriminal were to wind up with any of this info, they could use it to steal your identity and run up your credit. So, if anyone in your family happens to invite a plus-one to dinner this year, be sure to watch what you say, keep an eye on the documents in your purse or wallet, and beware of what is visible on your device's screens.
It’s not very likely that you would let something as personal as your credit card number slip during a conversation with a family friend you don’t know very well. However, sometimes when you’re forced to work during the holidays, or just want to catch up on the latest news online, you may pull out your phone or laptop. Using your devices in crowded areas or around those you don’t know (or even distant relatives) carries certain risks, like the possibility of someone monitoring your screen.
Quick tip: Even when you’re surrounded by those you love, it’s a good idea to be discreet with your devices and personal info found on documents. Be sure others can’t easily see what you’re doing online, even if it is just adjusting your fantasy football lineup, because you wouldn’t want that cousin you’re facing this week to receive a competitive edge.
It may be the season of giving, but it's also crucial that you don’t slap a bow on your identity and hand deliver it to a cybercriminal. By being mindful of the risks associated with sharing your streaming accounts, photos on social media, and personal information, you can enjoy the holidays with peace of mind. To add an extra layer of security and prevent account takeovers, consider using LifeLock Ultimate Plus. This must-have identity theft protection tool offers social media monitoring, alerts on crimes in your name, up to $1 million in stolen funds reimbursement, and more. Stay safe, stay vigilant, and have a happy holiday season!