With the holiday shopping season in full swing, and with the growing threat of ID theft looming, consumers may not know their identities could also be for sale.
The intersection of commerce and cyber-crime could be a bumpy road for shoppers over the next month, so dont let the ID theft grinches steal your holiday cheer this year.
"Wherever theres information about a person, whether its retained by a retailer, bank, credit bureau or database, theres someone out there who has the ability to steal it," said Dan Clements, spokesman for ID Secure, a sophisticated new tool that uses leading-edge public records, Social Security number and credit card monitoring technology to fight identity theft. "The more difficult you make it for someone to rip you off, the less chance you have of becoming a victim of identity theft. These criminals are not looking for a challenge; theyre looking for an opportunity."
ID Secure, a leading-edge public records, Social Security number, credit card and cyber-crime chat room monitoring service, is distributing a useful tip a day from Dec. 7-24 using the "12 Days of Christmas" theme to help protect consumers against the fastest growing crime in America.
With the holiday shopping season in high gear -- retail sales are expected to hit $474.5 billion this year, according to the National Retail Federation, and online shopping soared 37 percent on Cyber-Monday this year -- it is now more important than ever to take steps to protect your identity.
Before you load up your sleigh with holiday gifts, remember these tips from the experts at ID Secure:
On the ninth day of Christmas my expert reminded me:
1. Shop smart ... When shopping, limit the credit cards you carry and dont take extras. Leave your Social Security card, birth certificate and passport at home.
2. Keep receipts ... 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.
3. 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. Always check for the lock icon on the websites browser status bar, which signals a secure site that is safe for transactions.
4. Dont write a check ... When considering the gift of money, give cash or a gift card. If you write a check, make sure that your Social Security number is NOT on the check.
5. Give the gift of safety ... Buy a cross-cut shredder - a great line of defense for would-be ID thieves -- for that special someone on your list. It is smart to purchase one to protect yourself, too.
6. Strengthen passwords ... Create passwords that 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.
7. Watch your purse at parties ... Never leave a purse or wallet unattended at holiday parties, restaurants, fitness clubs, shopping carts or your car.
8. Dont take the bait on phishing scams and beware of shoulder surfing -- Phishing (also known as carding or spoofing) ... Be wary of deceptive e-mail scams that often masquerade as financial institutions, retailers or credit card companies that seek credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security numbers, mothers maiden name, PINs, passwords or other information. Dont give out personal information by e-mail and refrain from linking to a web site from e-mails. Use the phone, and not your mouse - as a quick call can validate legitimacy. And, always delete any e-mail directing you to type in a credit card number, Social Security number or other sensitive data. -- Shoulder Surfing ... Always be aware of someone looking over your shoulder during an ATM or purchase transaction. Be conscious of your
surroundings before making a transaction.
9. Stop mail, newspaper delivery ... If traveling during the holidays, put mail and newspaper deliveries on hold and start one of the first lines of defense on ID theft.
Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America, with 27.3 million victims in the past five years, and nearly 20 million in the past two years alone, according to a study from Javelin Strategy & Research. This crime costs more than US$56 billion, or US$6,383 per victim, annually and has become so prevalent that an identity thief strikes on average every 3.5 seconds. In fact, ID theft has now surpassed drug trafficking as the No. 1 crime in America, according to the Justice Department.
ID Secures pioneering technology monitors the Internet for fraudulent activity involving consumers personal information such as credit card account, debit card account. PIN numbers, social security numbers, mothers maiden name and many other types of personal information. ID Secure collects compromised personal information from foreign "underground" chat rooms where full sets of personal information are bought and sold by identity thieves for US$10 to US$30. This technology alerts members instantly if their personal information has become compromised, and assists them with keeping their identity safe.
For more information, please send your e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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