10 holiday ID theft prevention tips

In the search for the ultimate holiday gift or the biggest bargain, consumers need to make sure that they are not putting their identity at risk this holiday season.

To help educate and protect consumers this season, TraceMyID has partnered with world-renowned fraud prevention expert Frank Abagnale to develop solutions and provide tips to consumers.

One of the biggest risks respondents reported was purchasing an item from a website that they were not familiar with at the time of purchase, with almost 60 percent admitting to this behavior. Almost 80 percent cited “best price” as the motivating factor for purchasing from an unfamiliar website, while others chose not being able to find the item anywhere else or free shipping as their reason. Purchasing from unknown, and potentially unprotected, sites can put consumers’ credit, debit and other personal information at risk.

In addition to shopping at unfamiliar websites, more than half of the consumers surveyed reported that their payment information is stored on at least one website, between one to three sites, or that they do not even know how many sites have their information stored.

If these consumers fall victim to identity theft, the survey reveals some positive news regarding their other behaviors. Consumers have seemingly come to understand the importance of checking their monthly debit and credit card statements, as more than eight out of ten check these statements at least once a month. This is important in catching suspicious activity early, and in mitigating the damage done by an ID thief.

Frank Abagnale’s ID theft prevention tips:

Shop smart – When shopping, limit the credit cards you carry and don’t take extras. Leave your Social Security card, birth certificate and passport at home.

Keep receipts and check your statements – For post-holiday statements; be sure to examine every charge on your statement before paying. Your receipts provide a great cross-reference check and guard against suspicious activity. Remember, by law, you have 30 days from the date of your statement to notify your financial institution of any discrepancies, otherwise you can be liable for any purchases made.

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 that threaten your identity.

Watch where you shop online – 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.

Don’t write a check – give cash or a gift card. All of the information on a check, such as your name, signature, address and other information, can be used by thieves to steal your identity.

Shred documents with personally identifiable information, preferably using a security microcut shredder.

Strengthen passwords – so that they will not be easily cracked by hackers. 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.

Watch your purse/wallet at parties – restaurants, fitness clubs, shopping carts or your car.

Don’t take the bait on phishing scams – and beware of shoulder surfing (when a thief looks over your shoulder while you’re at an ATM, either directly or via a camera).

Stop mail, newspaper delivery – If traveling during the holidays.