"While consumers may know the basic steps to prevent against ID theft, with the holiday shopping season ahead and the more widespread use of mobile devices, it's easy for people to become distracted and lured into dangerous situations," said Christine El Eris, Director of PrivacyGuard. "Shopping remotely on unsecure networks, making purchases at unfamiliar websites and failing to check your account statements – behaviors like these can put consumers at risk."
Holiday ID theft prevention tips:
Beware of public WiFi - While it may be fun to shop via your new iPad app at your local park or coffee shop, it may not be secure. Double check your network security before you type in credit card information.
Cover your ATM card – Thieves are able to view your pin number, either via shoulder surfing (standing behind you and looking over your shoulder) or more technologically advanced method such as small video cameras secured to a physical ATM. Be certain to cover your pin number when entering it at an ATM.
Double check your email inbox - Many email scams have been reported where emails were sent to consumers that looked legitimate, but were designed to steal personal information. When in doubt, do not respond. Most retailers will not ask for personal information via email.
Watch where you shop online - The best price on those new shoes may cost you your identity. Always check for the lock icon on the website's browser status bar, which signals a secure site that is safe for transactions. If you have never heard of a website before, check to make sure it has security precautions in place and that it is not a fake website set up by identity thieves.
Take stock of store credit cards - Customers often apply for store credit cards during the holidays to take advantage of discounts on purchases, but forget to monitor the cards for suspicious activities after the holidays have passed. This can become particularly costly since interest rates are typically higher on these cards, and protections against theft are less certain than bank issued cards.
Keep receipts - Your receipts provide a great cross-reference check and guard against suspicious activity on credit card accounts.
Protect computer prior to online shopping - Make sure your security patch and antivirus software is updated regularly. Consider purchasing technology that protects against potential viruses.
Strengthen passwords - Use strong passwords with at least eight characters, including a combination of letters, numbers and symbols that are easy for you to remember, but difficult for predators to pounce upon.