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The Resource Center Credit Fraud & Credit Monitoring | article

Shop Safely for Your Easter Presents

While Christmas is the major holiday for buying and exchanging gifts with loved ones, many people also exchange presents during Easter. These gifts can range from candy from the Easter Bunny to clothes and apparel bought at the store by mom and dad. In fact, for some people, Easter warrants bigger gifts and celebrations than that holiday back in December.

If you are in a family where doting upon each other is expected over Easter, hitting up the mall to get that perfect gift that will herald in the spring and celebrate the holiday is probably on your to-do list. However, just like you would during any major holiday, you need to make sure that when you are out shopping for loved ones you aren't making yourself vulnerable to identity theft.

No matter where you do your shopping the risk remains
Even if you are just picking up some candy at your local confections shop, you still run the risk of having your identity stolen. While a trusted small business owner may not have ulterior motives when selling you candy, there could be other instances on your way to the store that might leave you vulnerable.

A host of dangers await when you use certain ATMs
For example, if you stop by a nearby ATM beforehand so that you can pay for your candy in cash, you may opt to use one that isn't attached to a bank or even the institution you hold an account with. This may be handy, but it's not a very good idea. Using non-affiliated ATMs is something you should avoid, because these ones are the most vulnerable to being tampered with by a thief. Why? Because while your bank's ATM probably has security cameras monitoring the comings and goings of customers, a free-standing device either in a shopping center or parking lot has far fewer measures in place to protect your finances.

Thieves could be collecting a lot of information whenever you swipe your debit card
Often, an identity thief will replace the magnetic strip on the ATM that reads your card's account number with a device that saves all of your account information. After that, they can use this information to drain your funds in the bank, access other personal identification information and potentially destroy your credit score.

There are other dangers, as well, that you may come across leading up to the holiday that could leave your credit report littered with fraudulent purchases — such as having your purse or wallet stolen while you're out and about. So do yourself a favor and invest in an identity monitoring program that can help you make sure that you have a second set of eyes helping you keep track of certain changes to your financial activity. It can ultimately alert you to potential signs of identity theft.