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Shopping: How to Protect Your Identity During the Holidays

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As you shop at the mall, grocery store, or visit grandma’s house while spreading holiday cheer, be careful of the sound of money flying out of your pockets! Make sure it’s into cash registers and not into the hands of the crooks that target holiday shoppers.

  holiday shopping to keep your identity safe

Identity theft doesn’t just happen online. Crooks can pilfer your personal information right out of your wallet or cellphone, unless you take some steps to be extra vigilant during the holiday shopping season.

How to Protect Your Identity During the Holidays

ProtectMyID (www.protectmyID.com) has some some simple, must-do measures to keep in mind:

  • Streamline your wallet. Leave anything you don’t need, such as your Social Security card (you should never carry it in your wallet), your library or wholesale club card, and excess credit cards at home. Only take the credit cards you know you will use.
  • When paying with a credit card, never let the clerk take the card out of your sight. The swipe should take place in clear view.
  • Paying with a debit card? Use your free hand or your body to obscure the key pad from the view of others around you.
  • Be aware of who’s around you and what you’re saying when you talk on your phone in public. Is someone listening in while you share potentially identifying information such as your home address?
  • Never leave packages, briefcases, purses, luggage, or other types of bags in plain view inside your car. If you must leave something in your car, conceal it in the trunk, and place it there before you arrive at the mall parking lot. Thieves have been known to watch parking lots to catch people storing things in their trunks.
  • Don’t sign up for store credit cards at the checkout counter. Take the application home and fill it out in privacy. Completing a credit application in a public place potentially exposes identifying information to prying eyes. No 10 percent discount is worth that risk!
  • Keep an eye on your credit report. Identity theft will show up on your credit report, often sooner rather than later. By monitoring your credit, you stand a better chance of catching fraud quickly and preventing things from getting worse.

Protecting your identity is every bit as important as crossing every name off your shopping list. Take steps to ensure you do both this holiday season.

What do you do to keep your identity and finances safe?

Featured image courtesy of Flickr.

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