CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - Nov 17, 2011) - Next week starts the official holiday shopping season and while consumers are trekking through the malls or cruising websites looking for great holiday bargains, it may be difficult for them to remember that not everyone around them is as caught up in the holiday spirit. Some of their fellow shoppers may actually be identity thieves looking to parlay the season's hustle and bustle into an opportunity to steal their personal information and, ultimately, their money.
A recent IBOPE Zogby International survey commissioned by TransUnion found that nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of Americans surveyed plan to do at least some of their holiday shopping online. At the same time, 35 percent of Americans surveyed say they are more afraid of becoming the victim of identity theft during the holiday shopping season.
"The holidays present a wealth of opportunity for identity thieves," says Heather Battison, TransUnion's senior director responsible for consumer education. "The hectic holiday season can potentially expose our personal information to theft in both high-tech ways like phishing scams, and in traditional ones, such as a stolen wallet or mail theft."
TransUnion provides consumers with proactive steps they can take now that will help minimize their exposure to identity theft -- both while shopping online and in the malls. While these tips from TransUnion are useful year round, they're especially important during the holiday season:
- When holiday shopping, only carry essential documents with you. Only take your driver's license and the credit card or cards you intend to use that day. Do not carry your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport, and consider leaving at home other types of cards that may have identifying information on them, like wholesale club cards or library cards.
- The holidays mean plenty of extra trash. Shred everything that contains personal, identifying information before throwing it out.
- Keep a close eye on your credit card bills. This is especially important during the holidays. The additional attention to your bill can help you catch any charges you don't recognize on your statement. An added bonus -- you'll also be more aware of how much you're spending and be better prepared to stay within your holiday spending budget.
- Monitor your credit. Consider enrolling in a credit monitoring service that will alert you via email to changes in your credit report. This way you will know quickly if someone else has tried to open a new credit account in your name.
- When shopping online, only do business with websites that have security measures in place to protect you. Before you provide any personal or payment information, look for a URL that begins with "https" (not "http") and the emblem of a lock on the page, typically next to the address bar.
- Before you surf the Web on Cyber Monday, consider changing your account passwords and keep a list of them in a secure place. Passwords and PIN numbers should be a random mix of letters, numbers and special characters, which makes it harder for identity thieves to guess.
IBOPE Zogby International was commissioned by TransUnion to conduct an online survey of 2,100 adults.
A sampling of IBOPE Zogby International's online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the U.S., was invited to participate from 10/18 to 10/21/11. Slight weights were added to region, party, age, race, religion, gender, and education to more accurately reflect the population. The margin of error is +/- 2.2 percentage points. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups. The MOE calculation is for sampling error only.
TransUnion Interactive, Inc is a wholly-owned direct-to-consumer subsidiary of TransUnion. As a global leader in information and risk management, TransUnion creates advantages for millions of people around the world by gathering, analyzing and delivering information. For businesses, TransUnion helps improve efficiency, manage risk, reduce costs and increase revenue by delivering high quality data, and integrating advanced analytics and enhanced decision-making capabilities. For consumers, TransUnion provides the tools, resources and education to help manage their credit health and achieve their financial goals. Through these and other efforts, TransUnion is working to build stronger economies worldwide. Founded in 1968 and headquartered in Chicago, TransUnion reaches businesses and consumers in 23 countries around the world. www.transunion.com
Follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TransUnion.