During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it can be easy to be caught up in the festivities and forget about the dangers associated with identity theft. Unfortunately, thieves count on the fact that you’ll be less apt to protect your identity during during the holidays. The Wall Street Journal just published this alarming statistic: $21 billion was stolen via identity theft in 2012. They often look for an opening. Here are a few ways you can protect your identity while shopping and entertaining this holiday season.
Guard Your Credit Cards Closely
Be aware of your surroundings at all times when shopping during the holidays. Keep credit cards in a secure place in your wallet or handbag, and carry them in a location that would be hard to steal.
When you go to the ATM or use a credit or debit card in the store, be careful when you enter your pin number. Use your body as a shield so no one can see what number you enter. Reconcile your purchases immediately to your receipts, as there are instances where cashiers add cash back to your purchase, hoping you won’t notice during the busy shopping season.
Keep Paper Organized in Your Home
As with many crimes, identity theft is often committed by someone you know. Don’t leave tempting information out as you fill your home with guests during the holiday. File credit card statements and other paper containing identifying information in a secure location. Never leave any paper with your social security number lying around. During your pre-party cleaning session, gather any paper with sensitive information that is no longer necessary to keep and shred regularly.
Be Vigilant When Shopping Online to Protect Your Identity
Don’t be tempted by too-good-to-be-true online sales. Instead, shop with known, trustworthy vendors. For optimal online safety, stick with major retailers and sites like Amazon or Etsy. Only enter credit card information for payment on a site that offers secure, encrypted shopping cart services. Also don’t opt to save your credit card information with the site. Even reputable retailers can be hacked.
Have fun this holiday season, but don’t forget to protect your identity. Fraud doesn’t take a vacation just because everyone else is.