Elf on the Shelf & the Nice List

One of this year’s popular Christmas decorations that many of us are starting to pack away is Elf on the Shelf.  This elf is meant to monitor the good and bad things that our kids are doing and report it back to Santa. Simply put, the Elf serves as a reminder in the room for kids to be on their best behavior and off of Santa’s naughty list for the four weeks leading up to Christmas.  After the holiday, Elf on the Shelf “disappears back to the North Pole” until the next year.

As adults, we may not have an Elf on the Shelf but most of us try to be a little more aware during the holiday season. From keeping an eye on our credit card statements to not opening that phishy looking e-card from Grandma, it is a good idea to keep our eyes open. Each year, new examples crop up that remind us this is a good idea, like the recent 40 million credit card numbers stolen from Target (story).

Even though the holidays are wrapping up and we are putting away our kids’ Elf on the Shelf, let’s not fall back into bad habits. Just like we encourage our kids to stay on their best behavior all year long, so we should too. Here are a few ways we can try to avoid that nasty lump of coal and stay on the Nice List.

  1. Has your data been stolen? Fraudsters often use current news stories to get your information. Watch out for emails or websites that say they can tell you if your credit card information has been stolen… just by entering in your name, birthday, social security number, or even the credit card number itself! The best way to detect if your card information has been stolen is to monitor your posted transactions closely.
  2. Record-keeping updates: Both online and over the phone, and under the guise of updating their records or verifying banking information, fraudsters can harvest large volumes of consumer identities. Beware of anyone you don’t know asking for your name, address, date of birth, email address and more.
  3. Social media: Fraudsters will friend an unsuspecting individual on his or her social networks, and then review that person’s friends, specifically looking for those that display the most information without privacy filters. A wealth of data can then be gathered—including favorite brands, retailers and recently-visited restaurants and businesses—and then leveraged against their target.
  4. Loyalty programs and marketing offers: A fraudster will call their victim, pretending to be a business offering discounts and other offers that require a small payment or personal information required to sign up. Tempted by savings opportunities, the victim gives out this information, providing the means for a fraudster to exploit the victim’s financial identity.