The Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC) urges consumers to safeguard their personal data while shopping this holiday season and to monitor online and paper account statements for suspicious activity.
"Criminals consider your personal data the ultimate gift," said Anne Wallace, Executive Director of ITAC. "Taking a few easy precautions while shopping during the holidays will help keep you from being a victim."
"Don't wait for your paper statement to check for suspicious activity," said ITAC board member Terry Nichols, VP-Chief Risk Officer, State Farm Bank®. "Check your account statements by calling your credit card company or bank, or by visiting their websites. You can minimize damage by acting quickly."
ITAC offers the following advice to holiday shoppers:
Don't volunteer any personal information when you use your credit card, other than by displaying personal ID as requested by a merchant.
Don't lend your card to anyone. You are responsible for its use. Some credit card misuse can be traced directly to family and friends.
Guard your PIN when using your debit card. Keep a lookout for suspicious activity. Always guard your PIN and transaction amount, and immediately cancel your transaction and leave if you see something suspicious.
Take your receipt. Always take your receipt. It contains personal information that could be helpful to thieves.
Shop only at Internet merchants you know and trust. If in doubt, check with the Better Business Bureau.
Never share your Internet passwords with anyone. Use different passwords for different Web sites.
Do not provide your social security number, birth date, or mother's maiden name in an email or within a Web site.
Install the latest anti-virus software on your computer before shopping online.
The Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC) (http://www.identitytheftassistance.org/) is a nonprofit that fights identity theft through victim assistance, research and law enforcement partnerships.