Protect Your Identity And Money This Holiday Season

Protect Your Identity And Money This Holiday Season

The holidays can be a wonderful time for shoppers who enjoy bargain hunting or admiring festive window displays. But it can also be prime hunting season for identity thieves. According to a recent report from Javelin, the number of identity fraud victims in the United States jumped in 2009 by 12 percent from the previous year to 11.1 million adults – the highest increase since the survey was first conducted in 2003. {{more}}”Whether shopping online or in stores, all consumers need to be vigilant,” says Shelley Solheim, Director of Financial Education at Capital One. “By taking a few simple steps, shoppers can help protect themselves both online and at the mall, and safeguard their personal information from identify thieves.” To protect consumers during the holiday shopping season, the experts at Capital One are offering these simple tips. At the Mall No matter where you shop, be careful during the hectic holiday season. * Streamline your wallet: Before shopping, clean out your wallet and take only credit cards, checks and/or cash that you need. Never carry your social security card in your wallet. * Be aware of your surroundings: Be conscious of other shoppers standing nearby when you are making purchases. Identity thieves have been known to copy credit card information or take pictures of cards on their cell phones. * Don’t leave valuables in your car: Your car’s glove compartment isn’t a secret hiding place. Wallets left in glove compartments account for thousands of credit card thefts every year. Shopping Online Be vigilant in cyberspace, especially when shopping on a Web site that’s new to you. * Only use secure sites: When you’re asked to provide payment information, the beginning of a Web site’s URL address should change from http to shttp or https, indicating that the purchase is encrypted or secured. * Consider how you’ll pay: Credit cards generally are a safe option because they allow buyers to receive credit from the issuer if the product isn’t delivered. Don’t ever send cash or use a money-wiring service because you’ll have no recourse if something goes wrong. * Use caution with social media: Retailers increasingly use social media to promote deals and disseminate coupons. But scammers also use these sites, often masquerading as a friend to deliver malicious links that allow hackers to steal personal information. Be suspicious of any message or promotion you did not sign up to receive, and instead of following links, go directly to a store’s Web site. * Keep your password private: When selecting a password for an e-commerce site, do not use commonly known information, such as family names, birthdates, or numbers from your driver’s license or Social Security number. If you are a victim of identity theft, make sure to report it immediately to one of the three credit reporting agencies — TransUnion, Experian or Equifax — and file a police report. For more tips and advice on preventing and reporting identity theft, visit money-wise.org.