The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the biggest shopping time of the year. As we enter the season of giving there is one thing we should be stingy with - protecting our Identities!Holiday madness, crazed shoppers and packed malls. While we are bustling from store to store and internet site to internet site trying to complete everyone's holiday list, thieves and scammers are taking our distraction as a signal to strike. This is the easiest time of year for thieves to steal wallets, break into houses and profit financially from the season of giving without victims detecting it for a long time.
Don't trust your email. There are so many holiday scams by email that you should read everything with an enormous grain of salt. If someone is promising you something for nothing (free gift, free money, etc.), don't buy it.
Protect your home. Your greatest risk during the busyness is all of the extra people that come into your home. It makes it very easy to pocket a check book that's on your desk or a brokerage statement in your filing cabinet. Especially during the holidays, lock it up!
Use your credit card. Don't use checks and don't use a debit card, as they don't give you nearly as much protection.
Carry less in your wallet. It is too easy to steal a purse that is sitting at your feet as you pay or have lunch. The very best advice is to take your driver's license and one or two credit cards with you shopping.
Watch your statements. Most forms of holiday identity theft can be caught simply by monitoring your checking, debit and credit card accounts frequently. Even better, sign up for automatic account alerts when any transaction occurs on your account.
Monitor your credit reports.
Shop on secure websites. Make sure that both the https:// and lock symbols appear in your browser.
Be cautious in public. Don't give your credit card number (or Social Security Number) over the phone if someone is within earshot. Shield your PIN number when entering it at an ATM or card swipe.
Donate to known charities and only when you have initiated the gift. Don't respond to phone calls for charity.
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