TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - If you've been shopping for Christmas gifts, you might have noticed decorations and gift ideas everywhere you look.
However, professionals warn not to let your guard down against identity theft.
Before you buy anything, listen to these steps to prevent your spirits from being tarnished.
It's a lesson Jackie Limburg learned five years ago.
"We thought we were careful before, but, evidently, not as careful as we should have been. So now, we're very careful," Limburg said.
First, whether you're shopping online or in a store, experts suggest an alternative form of payment than debit cards.
"The debit card: you're giving them direct access to your bank account. So, that's where the greatest danger is," LifeLock Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications Mike Prusinski said.
Also, skip those in store credit card applications.
"What happens to that paperwork? Is it shredded? Is it just kept in a paper folder someplace? And so, as a consumer, you have the right to know the answer to that," Prusinski said.
"You should never give out your social security number with out asking three questions. First, what do you need it for? How is that data being stored? Most importantly, if my data falls into the wrong hands, how are you going to fix my problems?"
Last, don't shop online using someone else's Wifi because you never know who has access.
"If we're going to be the one that aren't paying attention to what's going on around us; if we're not going to be educated about the crime, then you know what, then, we become easy victims for criminals."
It's the busiest time for shopping and just one more reason to be on the look out.
More than 11 million Americans will be victims to identity theft this year alone.
Professionals encourage you to visit the Federal Trade Commission to know your identity theft report.
Contact the Social Security Administration and ask them to run a work history on your child's social security number. That's because a criminal could be using it, and you would never know.
If you become a victim of identity theft, you're encouraged to file a police report and a report to the Federal Trade Commission.
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