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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection | article

Avoid The Malls, and Maybe Identity Theft, When Doing Your Holiday Shopping

Every holiday season, shoppers flock to the big-box department stores to get the best deals on the popular hot items that year. For some consumers, even finding a space in the mall parking lot can be a jarring experience, let alone actually braving the jungle of bargain-hunters that await within. This is why many buyers resort to shopping from the comfort of their home computer, opting to have gifts delivered rather than risk life-and-limb by hitting up the stores in person.

As convenient a shopping experience this is, there are as many dangers in having packages delivered to your house. You may not face the risks of having your wallet stolen or getting jostled while waiting in line that face you at a department store when you purchase gifts online. But a very real danger you may come across is having your identity snatched up by someone who is preying on your packages.

Be aware that even shopping from home has its dangers
According to the United States Postal Service (USPS), the busiest time of year for package deliveries is December, specifically during the few weeks before Christmas. This makes the holiday season prime time for criminals looking to commit postal theft.

In 2006, the Justice Department reported more than 5,000 cases of identity theft, with the vast majority of those arrested eventually being convicted of the crime. The best way to prevent someone from not only stealing a package you paid for but using the billing information within to open accounts in your name is to be thorough in tracking your mail.

Keep a close eye on the status of your deliveries
Consumer Reports magazine recommends sticking to websites or mailing services that allow you to track your purchases through every step of the delivery process. Not only will this allow you to recognize where an order might have gotten lost or stolen easily, but it will also put your mind at ease knowing others are watching out for your purchase.

If your package isn’t on time, it may be because of theft
You should also be sure to keep close track of the date you are told your order will be coming. If your package doesn’t arrive when you are expecting it, don’t hesitate to call the postal service and investigate the order’s whereabouts.

An added precaution to protect your credit score is to enroll in a credit monitoring program. Should your identity get stolen and someone is taking advantage of your good credit during the holiday season, this service will pick up on the strange activity and let you know about potential fraud.