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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection | article

While You’re Inside Shopping, Thieves May Be In The Mall Parking Lot Scoping Out Your Car

The mall turns into a circus during the holiday season. With parking lots filled to the brim with anxious shoppers looking to find a spot, you may have a headache before you even get through the shopping center's main entrance. While you may think the biggest dangers to your identity await you within the mall, your car is left unattended and utterly vulnerable while you're inside battling the crowds.

Material theft isn't all you have to worry about
Before heading out to do your shopping, take stock of what you have within your car that could make it a target for thieves of all kinds. If you leave something of value in plain sight within your car, a passerby carjacker may spot it, making your ride a target for a break-in. Once that thief gets inside your car to steal something like your GPS system or MP3 player, they may stumble upon something that has personal identification information (PII) on it that they can then use to upgrade their criminal status to identity thief.

The keys to your identity may be strewn about your back seat
Because we all live busy lives which only get even more hectic over the holidays, you may not realize the things you have strewn about that could lead to your identity being compromised. You may have documents from work that have your name and address, or even worse your Social Security number, that you left behind in the car because you're just swinging by the mall on your way home. There may be receipts with credit card information on them from your last stop on a day of mall-hopping trying to get all of your shopping done in one fell swoop.

Combat thieves by keeping your car clean
Don't head out for the mall before making sure your car is clean and organized and that nothing is in there that doesn't belong either under lock and key or in the safety of your home. Store expensive electronics you use for the car in your glove box and out of plain site.

You have a lot more to lose than just your set of wheels if your car gets broken into or stolen while you're out shopping. An imposter could make a mess of your credit score by using information you freely left laying around and using it to open up new accounts in your name. Protect your identity by keeping your car tidy — that way, you'll even have more room to store your gifts.

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