Law & Daily Life - The FindLaw Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Avoid Identity Theft During Holiday Shopping

It's not just Black Friday and Cyber Monday -- some of us will be doing our holiday shopping right up until Christmas Eve. And whether you're grabbing gifts online or IRL, you need to keep your ID secure.

Here are a few tips on avoiding identity theft during the holiday shopping season:

Identity Theft on the Internet

By now you should be aware that while online shopping has gotten safer, it still comes with some legal pitfalls. Here are three things to look for to make sure your identity is safe on the web:

  1. Site Security: Look for the S at the end of "https" in the url -- that's an indication that the portion of the website is secure -- and use strong passwords when creating online shopping accounts;
  2. Secure Shops: You may want to shop "local" or "mom and pop" websites, but beware -- larger retailers often have better online store security; and
  3. System Security: Avoid using public computers or public Wi-Fi when shopping -- shared computers or wireless networks can give hackers access to your information.

The fewer online retailers that have your personal or financial information, the better, so be wary of where you shop.

Identity Theft in IRL

The Internet isn't the only place your identity is unsafe. Target's data breach affected 40 million customers who had walked in to its nearly 2,000 stores nationwide. And there are numerous debit and credit cards scams that can occur at the point of sale.

Obviously, paying in cash can reduce these risks, but carrying cash can present its own safety issues. Now that businesses are on the hook for credit card fraud if they don't have the latest card readers, make sure your debit or credit card is up to date as well. You can request a chip card from your bank or try paying by phone.

And always keep a close eye on your bank and credit card statements this holiday season -- these can be the first clues to identity theft.

Related Resources: