While this is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, it’ll also be a big day for identity thieves. Elizabeth Mosely, spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute, warns Iowans to keep the amount of personal information they carry with them to a minimum, in case they’re pick-pocketed. Mosely says if you have four or five credit cards, you may be able to get by with just two. Leave the others in a safe place at home. If you’re using an A-T-M card at the register, shield the keypad as you type in your PIN. Also, she says to always take the receipts with you — don’t leave them on the counter and don’t throw them away in a public trash can. Mosely says shopping on the Internet can be convenient — but it can also be hazardous. Look for reputable, secure sites that feature a little padlock icon at the bottom. Mosely says if the worst happens and someone does find a way to break into your account, you may not know about it until you go through your monthly statement — something she highly encourages you to do with every single statement. Mosely suggests shredding all documents that contain personal information instead of just throwing them away — bank statements, charge receipts and credit card applications. The Federal Trade Commission says there were ten-million identity theft victims in 2002. Credit card losses average $1800 dollars but victims are generally only liable for the first $50.
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