Ask the Experts: Avoiding ID Theft at the Holidays

Keep your information safe as you shop and spend.

Dear Gary,

With all the data breaches and fraud reports on the news, I’m worried about giving thieves the gift of my identity at some point while I’m shopping this season. Are there any extra steps I can take at the holidays to prevent identity theft?

Katie S.
Dallas, TX

An expert answer from Gary Herman

In addition to the tips in the video above, here are some additional tips and reminders to help you keep your identity safe during the holidays this year:

  • Turn off the blue tooth connection on your mobile devices when you’re out shopping.
  • Don’t use public wireless access or local hotspots to shop online.
  • Don’t use your bank debit card to make online purchases; ideally, use a prepaid credit card or a low-limit credit card.
  • Lock your home wireless network with a password.
  • Change your account passwords before the end of the year and make them unique.
  • Don’t send any personal data or account information via email. You may receive legitimate fraud alert emails from your creditors, but they will never ask you to send or verify personal data via email. Instead, they will redirect you to a secure website or ask you to call in.
  • How to avoid online identity theftCheck your December statements carefully to make sure you recognize all of the charges.
  • If you haven’t reviewed your credit report already this year, download a copy for free through annualcreditreport.com and review your report for accounts you didn’t open and other suspicious activity.

If you believe you’ve been a victim of identity theft and someone has opened an account in your name, follow these steps:

  1. Call the police (their nonemergency line) and file a report.
  2. Call the credit card company and talk to their fraud department.
  3. Contact at least one of the three main credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion) to have a fraud alert on your profile to prevent additional fraudulent accounts from being opened.

Remember, you shouldn’t be on the hook financially for any accounts opened fraudulently in your name. You also aren’t responsible for charges made on an account that you did not authorize. If you see mysterious charges you didn’t make, simply call the creditor to report the suspicious activity and work with them to get those charges removed.

"We are really proud to recommend Consolidated Credit" Kathleen Cannon, President & CEO of United Way of Broward County. Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, Inc. is pleased to announce our partnership with the United Way as a United Way Chairman’s Circle Organization.

"We are really proud to recommend Consolidated Credit" Kathleen Cannon, President & CEO of United Way of Broward County. Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, Inc. is pleased to announce our partnership with the United Way as a United Way Chairman’s Circle Organization.

All Consolidated Credit counselors are certified personal financial counselors (CFC) We've helped 5 million people get out of debt! Call us today and see what we can do for you.

Consolidated Credit is honored to receive the 2012 Excellence in Financial Literacy Education (EIFLE) Nonprofit Organization of the Year award. The EIFLE awards acknowledge innovation, dedication and the commitment of organizations that support financial literacy education worldwide. See what Consolidated Credit can do for you.

Consolidated Credit is honored to receive the 2012 Excellence in Financial Literacy Education (EIFLE) Nonprofit Organization of the Year award. The EIFLE awards acknowledge innovation, dedication and the commitment of organizations that support financial literacy education worldwide. See what Consolidated Credit can do for you.

The National Industry Standards for Homeownership Education and Counseling are a set of guidelines for quality homeownership and counseling services. Industry professionals who adopt these standards can be trusted to provide consistent, high quality advice.
Click here to learn more.

Consolidated Credit Consulting Services, Inc. has been verified as the owner or operator of the Web site located at www.consolidatedcredit.org. Official records confirm Consolidated Credit Consulting Services, Inc. as a valid business. Call us today and see what we can do for you.

Consolidated Credit is a Certified ISO 9001 company, as verified through Bureau Veritas Certification.

Time tested and customer trusted. Consolidated Credit Counseling Services has been a BBB Accredited Business since 1998 and has a current A+ rating. Call us today and see what we can do for you.

View the Consolidatedcredit.org review status

Time tested and customer trusted. Consolidated Credit Counseling Services has been a BBB Accredited Business since 1998 and has a current A+ rating. Call us today and see what we can do for you.

View the Consolidatedcredit.org review status

Consolidated Credit is proud to be an ANAB accredited member. Accreditation by a recognized and respected body such as ANAB ensures the impartiality and competence of our company. To see what we can do for you, give us a call.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development - HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. Consolidated Credit is proud to be a member of HUD and also part of the Hope Now Alliance.

You can save!

With this amount of debt, you'd pay around $xx.xx on a DMP.

FREE Debt Consultation
VE Interactive