Protect Your Identity This Holiday Season - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/29/03

Protect Your Identity This Holiday Season

Many people are crowding the malls these days attempting to "deck the halls" for their loved ones. But unfortunately, the holiday season does not always equal good cheer. There are some people who are out to steal your jolly as well as your identity, but there are ways to overcome these holiday grinches.

"I just got off of work and my daughter wanted to come and shop. We are working long days, so this is a treat to me for all the long days I've worked. You have to look out for number one," said shopper Carmen Urbina.

She knows when shopping, you do have to look out for yourself. Because in the midst of all the signs tempting you with holiday "steals," if shoppers are not careful, the"steal" may be on them in-- the form of identity theft.

"Most of us, if you look at your checkbook, we put our name, we put our address, we put our date of birth, we put our social security number--and with that information, someone could steal your identity. You may not even know that someone has stolen your identity [and] y ou're the one that ends up getting contacted by the creditor wanting to know why you're not paying a bill that you didn't know anything about," said Biloxi Police Department Sgt. Jackie Rhodes.

There are two popular schemes in identity theft.

The first scheme is called a "skimmer". Thieves will take a portable device that looks like a credit card swiper. They get your debit or credit card, swipe it, and the number is recorded in the device

The second scheme is when a thief steals your purse or wallet and delivers your cards and checkbook to someone else who will catalogue your ID and sell it on the black market.

Identity theft increases almost every year during the holiday shopping rush, and even though this is the season of giving, here are just a few tips to keep your identity to yourself.

Be extra cautious at ATMs and shopping centers, and keep your receipt.

Never write down your social security number or credit card number, even if a clerk asks for them.

And keep a daily record of what you have charged on your cards.

By Karla Redditte

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