Nov/Dec 2007 Issue
Holiday shoppers beware: identity thieves are lurking

While you’re busy shopping for holiday gifts, criminals are also searching for a one-of-a-kind item: your identity.

Holiday shoppers should take care to protect their identities from thieves, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Increased spending during the holiday season provides more opportunities for criminals to steal your identity.

Here are some tips to protect yourself.

  • Keep the amount of personal information in your purse or wallet to the bare minimum. Avoid carrying additional credit cards or your Social Security card unless absolutely necessary.
  • Guard your credit card when making purchases. Use your hand to shield personal information when using ATM machines or making long distance phone calls with phone cards. Don’t fall prey to “shoulder surfers” who may be nearby.
  • Always take credit card or ATM receipts. Don’t throw them into public trash containers, leave them on the counter, or put them in a shopping bag where they can easily fall out or get stolen.
  • When shopping online, make sure that you are buying from a reputable retailer with a secure network. You can use with confidence.
  • Tear or shred any documents that have personal information such as credit card numbers, bank statements, charge receipts, or credit card applications, before disposing of them.

If you are the victim of a crime, report it to the store and police immediately. Ask for a copy of the police report to use when filing an insurance claim or report the crime to the Federal Trade Commission for their assistance. Victims of identity fraud can contact the FTC at 877-IDTHEFT or

Theft of personal possessions is generally covered by homeowners and renters insurance policies. Identity theft insurance generally covers expenses such as phone bills, lost wages, notary and certified mailing costs.

For information on AAA Visa®, call (866) 665-3581; for PrivacyGuard® insurance, call (866) 957-4055.

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