This Holiday Season, Protect Your Identity

The holiday season is in full swing, and that means that the identity thieves are also in full swing. This is a great time for scammers and others to unscrupulously claim your identity and try to make a little extra money.

This can be problematic, since identity theft ranges from someone pretending to be you and using your stolen credit card number to make purchases, to someone pretending to be you and actually opening accounts in your name. In some cases, this can result in credit problems that can affect your finances for years to come.

Here are a few things to watch out for this holiday season as you attempt to protect your identity:


This classic never gets old for scammers. An identity thief will send an email purporting to be from a retailer. You click on a hyperlink that goes to a fake site and enter your login information. Now the scammer has your username and password, and many people use the same information for multiple sites. Many scammers will take this information and try it other sites, hoping to get lucky.

You might also be asked for personal information to be sent via email. Most retailers, though, won’t ask for this information to be sent in this manner. If you want to take advantage of a deal, go directly to the retailer’s site in a new browser window. Legitimate emails from retailers usually include promo codes that you can use without linking from the email.

Choose different passwords for different sites so that all of your accounts aren’t compromised if one is.


During the holidays, many of us are more inclined to be charitable. We are willing to give our money to worthy causes. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous characters who pose as charities. You might just lose some cash. But you might also turn over important information. Calls from fake charities might result in you giving out credit card information to fraudsters. It can be hard to tell sometimes, too, since these scammers are adept at spoofing the caller ID so it looks respectable.

It can be hard to say no, but it makes sense sometimes to have a policy. I never give donations out over the phone. In fact, I have specific charities that I donate to — charities that I know are legit — and, as much as it goes against the grain, I say no to anyone else claiming to be from a charity.

The reality is that you can’t give to every charity, so you might as well give to those you are most interested in, and say no to others.

No Complete Safety

Unfortunately, there is no complete safety from identity theft. You can do your best to avoid using public Wi-Fi when you enter certain information, and you can have great passwords, but the reality is that there is so much data on you that are no guarantees. A disgruntled employee at a processing center could sell lists of names and information.

However, if you take steps to prevent ID theft, and if you check your credit report and other documents regularly to monitor the situation, you are more likely to avoid the worst problems.

About the Author

Miranda writes about financial topics for several web sites. Her blog is Planting Money Seeds, and her book, Confessions of a Professional Blogger, is available on Amazon.