Keep Your Identity Safe This Holiday Season

The Christmas shopping season is an active one for consumers – and for identity theft fraudsters. To keep your financial identity safe during the holidays, keep the following five tips on mind. Each could mean the difference between “Merry Christmas” and “Scary Christmas.”

First, know what’s at stake. According to Javelin Research’s 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report, the number of identity fraud victims in the U.S. rose 12% in 2009 from 2008. At about 11.1 million Americans, that’s not an easily dismissed number. Then there’s the cash involved. Javelin reports that the money lost to ID fraud scams climbed 12.5% to $54 billion.

The good news is that Javelin did find that consumers who took concrete steps to protect themselves reduced overall fraud, and significantly cut the time for resolving fraud cases if they did occur (by 30%, to 21 hours, the report states).

You don’t have to take extraordinary steps this holiday season, but you do have to act, experts say. “During the holiday season, especially, people need to know what to look out for and how to properly protect themselves,” said Lisa H. Robinson, senior vice president, Head of Risk Management, Wells Fargo Internet Services Group. “By taking simple precautions, shoppers can reap significant benefits when it comes to fraud prevention.”