Protect your ID during the holidays

Beware of crooks looking for more than bargains this coming holiday season. With the excitement of shopping and enjoying the festivities, it’s easy to ignore red flags and wallet safety techniques usually practiced. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC), the last quarter of the year offers the biggest shopping season and the greatest opportunity for identity thieves and pickpockets to take advantage of crowded environments.

Because identity theft is still the fastest growing crime in America; affecting more than 10 million victims a year, Money Management International (MMI) in partnership with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and other NFCC Member Agencies will recognize Protect Your Identity Week (PYIW) October 17-23, 2010. Visit ProtectYourIDNow.org to learn how you can learn new safety techniques and get involved in local PYIW initiatives and events offered in your community.

With added protections, fighting ID theft is tough at best, so MMI offers the following everyday tips to help keep your information safe and secure:

  • Don’t leave your wallet or statements lying around—even at home.
  • Don’t carry Social Security cards or anything with your Social Security number on it.
  • Keep track of your credit card receipts and carbons.
  • Never tell anyone your card number over the phone, unless you initiate the phone call.
  • Never allow your credit card number to be used as identification.
  • Collect your mail regularly and destroy unwanted credit solicitations.
  • Monitor your credit statements.

If you become a victim, time is of the essence. Acting quickly can help limit the potential impact. Here are the steps to take when someone steals your identity:

  • File a police report.
  • Immediately notify issuers of credit.
  • Contact the fraud department of each of the credit reporting agencies to place a temporary 90-day Fraud Alert on your file.
  • Monitor your credit file.
  • Contact your local state Attorney General’s office, the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission (877-IDTHEFT).

Identity theft is recognized as a serious social issue by agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, the FBI and the United States Secret Service. For more information about protecting your good name, visit www.usdoj.gov or www.consumer.gov.

You might also enjoy reading:

ID Theft: When you know the thief

Why would anyone want to be me?

Be a safe Internet shopper

Tanisha (Warner) Smith is a former communications manager at MMI.

  • Better Business Bureau A+ rating Better Business Bureau
    MMI is proud to have achieved an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), a nonprofit organization focused on promoting and improving marketplace trust. The BBB investigates charges of fraud against both consumers and businesses, sets standards for truthfulness in advertising, and evaluates the trustworthiness of businesses and charities, providing a score from A+ (highest) to F (lowest).
  • Trustpilot Trustpilot
    MMI is rated as “Excellent” (4.8/5) by reviewers on Trustpilot, a global, online consumer review platform dedicated to openness and transparency. Since 2007, Trustpilot has received over 116 million customer reviews for nearly 500,000 different websites and businesses. See what others are saying about the work we do.
  • Consumer Federation of America Consumer Federation of America
    MMI is a member of the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development Department of Housing and Urban Development
    MMI is certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide consumer housing counseling. The mission of HUD is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD provides support services directly and through approved, local agencies like MMI.
  • Council on Accreditation Council On Accreditation
    MMI is proudly accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. COA’s thorough, peer-reviewed accreditation process is designed to ensure that organizations like MMI are providing the highest standard of service and support for clients and employees alike.
  • National Foundation for Credit Counseling National Foundation for Credit Counseling
    MMI is a longstanding member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), the nation’s largest nonprofit financial counseling organization. Founded in 1951, the NFCC’s mission is to promote financially responsible behavior and help member organizations like MMI deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.