Okay, so I’ll be the first to say it even though we’re all already thinking it: The holidays are right around the corner.  That’s right, it’s the most wonderful, chaotic, spiritual, emotional, hectic time of the year.  The decorations go up.  The decorations come down.  There’s meal planning, shopping, cooking and baking.  You’ll travel one week and host visitors the next.  You’ll spend time with friends, families, co-workers, and neighbors.  There’s the wrapping up of loose ends at the end of the school semester, and the end of the office quarter.  There’s wrapping gifts, which means more shopping…

Nowadays, like many places across the country, folks in Northwest Indiana shop online, but surprisingly only a very small percentage of identity theft cases occur as a result of online tampering, such as computer hacking.  More often than not it’s the same old-fashioned, live and in person thief that gets consumers in the most trouble.

However you spend your energy during the spirit of the season don’t neglect to heed these few tips that will help you keep from spending your January (and undoubtedly many more sad months to follow) cleaning up the fallout from having your identity stolen.

  1. Shred anything with personal information on it before throwing it out, including credit card and mortgage mail solicitations.  Thieves will dig through your garbage to find information they can use to open new credit accounts in your name that can end up costing you big.
  2. Keep your social security card, pass port, and any credit cards you don’t currently use at home.  This minimizes the amount of information a thief can get if they steal your purse or wallet.
  3. Take credit card receipts with you instead of leaving them behind.  It doesn’t matter if it’s the department store receipt for $100 or the coffee shop tab for $10.  If there’s ever a doubt, take it with you.
  4. Keep your virus and spyware software up to date and running (We had to get one computer tip in there).
  5. If you believe you have had your identity stolen don’t wait to get help.  Start here for information on common questions asked by people who suspect they have become victims of identity theft.