Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Season brings Annual Increase in Identy Theft - 10 tips to help consumers stay alert

MONTREAL, December 13, 2010 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - It is a grim holiday tradition: every year, December brings the highest incidence of identity theft and fraud. The crowds of shoppers, increased spending and frequent travel all contribute to a heightened risk for falling victim to criminal activity., which offers identity theft protection resources and services, including proactive identity monitoring, has published a list of tips for safe shopping and consumer transactions during the busiest time of the year.

"Given the huge toll identity theft can take, in terms of stress, lost time and money, it is vital for consumers to take basic, simple steps to protect themselves," explains Sylvain Patry, senior vice-president of and an expert in protecting against identity theft.

10 tips to keep your identity safe this holiday season:

1. Beware of charity scams. If you want to make a donation, call or contact the organization yourself. Never send bank or credit card information by email or give it over the phone.

2. Watch out for phishing scams. Keep your guard up when reading unsolicited email from an address you don't recognize. Be suspicious of any email or phone message requesting money, your passwords, your account information, personal details or that you "verify your account" or "confirm your identity." Legitimate institutions will never ask you for these things.

3. Think twice before downloading holiday e-cards. As always, treat email attachments with suspicion. They may contain malware that could infect your computer.

4. Do not click on pop-ups or follow links promoting special holiday offers. These, too, may contain viruses. Better to type in a website's address on your own to check out the deal.

5. Never carry more cards or identification than you need.

6. Keep a record of all your card numbers in a safe place at home. If you lose your wallet, it will be much easier to cancel and replace cards.

7. Make sure your laptop and smartphone are password-protected. That way, if you lose either, the thief may not be able to access your personal information.

8. Do not shop or access password-protected accounts from public or work computers. You don't know how secure the computer or wireless network is.

9. Use your hand as a shield when typing a PIN. Never let a credit or debit card out of your sight in a store or restaurant.

10. Always keep your receipts. Examine your credit card and bank statements regularly to ensure there are no suspicious charges.

For more tips, as well as tools to protect yourself from identity theft, visit

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