GMT Spotlight on I.D. Theft: Post-holiday shopping I.D. theft tips
The holiday season is when you tend to put the most activity on your credit cards, so it's also a time when chances of I.D. theft go up. And if someone compromised your identity, now's the time when your credit score will start to reflect this fraud.Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Justin Schecker
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The holiday season is when you tend to put the most activity on your credit cards, so it's also a time when chances of I.D. theft go up. And if someone compromised your identity, now's the time when your credit score will start to reflect this fraud.
During the holiday shopping rush, crowded malls and stores make it easier for pickpockets to snatch your cards.
And when a seasonal worker is ringing you up, there's a chance the store didn't invest in a background check. Consumer experts warn they could have a history of I.D. theft.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne told 9 On Your Side that the shopping you do at home also puts you at risk.
"During the holiday season, obviously people are buying more and as time goes on, more people are buying online," Horne said. "When they do that, they use their credit card numbers."
When searching online, there's a chance you visit an unfamiliar site. The bargain may look so good, you forget to check whether the site is secure and you could very well become a victim of I.D. theft.
"You need check your bank and credit card statements to make sure there are no unauthorized purchases," Horne told 9 On Your Side. "You need to check with the credit card company or the bank."
If someone steals your credit card info or opens an account in your name, and now your credit score reflects a thief wracking up unpaid charges, Southern Arizona Better Business Bureau spokesperson Nick LaFleuer advises to take action and freeze your credit report.
"The first thing to do is put a freeze on your credit report with the state of Arizona," LaFleur said. "It is pretty easy to do, then contact the credit reporting agency and start taking steps to get it removed from the credit report."
Putting a freeze on your credit report comes with necessary inconveniences, LaFleur said.
"You wouldn't be able to open up any credit cards, you wouldn't be able to take out any loans," LaFleur said. "It can be quite a nuisance, but if people are putting bad debts on your credit reports, it is worth it."
Horne told 9 On Your Side the key is to notify your bank or credit card company right away.
"If you let time go by, it could be a lot more troublesome," Horne said. "Now, if someone has in fact stolen you I.D., you also want to call your local police department."
There are free different websites that check your credit score for free once a year. Annualcreditreport.com gives a clear explanation how to use the three sites that check your credit score.