Crime cayman: Beware Identity theft

 (ARA) – Not everyone will be thinking of gift shopping, decorating and spreading good cheer this holiday season. Identity thieves will spend their time concocting new ways to steal and use your personal information.

More people report lost and stolen wallets between November and January than at any other time of year and nearly 10 million Americans were affected by identity theft in 2008, according to the Javelin Strategy and Research Center. Law enforcement officials predict identity theft will continue to rise throughout 2009 due to the economy.

Good old-fashioned vigilance remains the best way to protect your identity. This holiday season, you’ll need to be as creative as the ID thieves in order to avoid identity theft.

Here are some tips to avoid falling victim to identity theft while you conduct your holiday business:

* Be aware – and wary – of your surroundings when you use your cell phone in a public place, whether you’re at work, using public transportation or strolling through the mall. If you make a purchase over the phone and give your credit card number and billing information aloud in a public place, you could be giving identity thieves everything they need to steal your identitiy.

* Keep your wallet lean when holiday shopping. Carry only the credit cards and ID that you need.

* Shopping after work? Put your laptop, purse or brief case in the trunk of your car before you reach your destination. Thieves are watching parking lots to see who puts something in the trunk before leaving their car.

* When paying for purchases, never allow your credit card out of your sight. Don’t walk away while the cashier runs your charge. Thieves now have scanning devices that allow them to scan your card in seconds.

* When shopping online, only do business with sites that display the “lock” security symbol that indicates they are a secure Web site. Transmitting credit card and personal information over a non-secure site exposes your information to hackers and identity thieves.

* Turn down those credit cards the clerk offers in the store – even if it comes with a big discount for the day. ID thieves look for people completing credit applications on the fly and take the opportunity to steal identifying information.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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