The holiday season – time for cheer and vigilance

By: Margarita Lim

It’s the holiday season and a festive time of year. Colorful Christmas lights and decorations, holiday songs, all of these things contribute to the celebratory atmosphere which causes many people to let their guards down. Unfortunately, fraudsters and other criminals take advantage of the prevailing goodwill and can help make one of the busiest shopping times of the year, a miserable one for their victims. It’s not a surprise that articles and news stories are released advising shoppers on how to continue enjoying their holiday season by not being victims of identity theft or other known fraud activities. Consumers can get tips from the Federal Trade Commission and other websites to prevent or minimize exposure to identity theft but I think key ones include:

• If using credit cards for purchases, write ‘Check Photo ID’ on the back of your credit card.

• Be very protective about disclosing personal information, especially Social Security
Numbers. Did you know that it only takes one piece of personal information about you for
a thief to steal your identity?

• If shopping online, only make purchases from recognizable online retailers and websites.

Many fraudsters will create fake websites that offer goods for sale in order to collect personal and credit information that can then be used to make fraudulent purchases.
If consumers need to be careful this holiday season, businesses should also be vigilant. Fraudsters cause businesses like banks, retailers and credit card companies to lose millions of dollars that ultimately get passed on to their customers. Companies need to make sure they have tools in place to minimize these fraud losses. I’ve mentioned this in a previous post but Experian supports Identity Theft Prevention Programs by offering highly accurate consumer identity verification services. Our consumer authentication and fraud prevention product, Precise ID, and our knowledge based authentication product, Knowledge IQ, are highly respected in the marketplace for their reliability, quality and accuracy. Implementing either of these products would go a long way in preventing fraud this holiday season.