Q&A with Becky Franklin
Protect your wallet; identity theft occurs often over holidays
Q: I guess there's good reason December is Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month?
A: Yes, this is the time of year when most identity theft occurs. More than 11.6 million Americans were victims of identity fraud in 2011, an increase of 13 percent over 2010. It is extremely important for holiday shoppers to take some preventive measures to keep the holidays joyful.
Q: What can consumers do to protect themselves from fraud?
A: Simple things like checking your account balances frequently and exercising caution when shopping online will help. But most importantly, consumers must stay alert while shopping.
Q: How can consumers stay alert?
A: Be aware of your surroundings, including people around you when checking out. Keep an eye on your credit card at all times. Stay off your cellphone when checking out. Notify your credit card issuer immediately if you see any unauthorized charges. Carry wallets in front pockets and use only purses with cross-body straps. Use cash sparingly, keeping in mind that you can always cancel a debit or credit card if it is stolen. Shop online only with large, well-known retailers whose websites are secure. Don't send cash or checks through the mail where they can easily be lost or stolen.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER