How to avoid identity theft during the holiday season

How to avoid identity theft during the holiday season

SARASOTA (WWSB) - Did you know that Florida had the second highest rate of identity theft in the country last year?

Every time you swipe that debit or credit card, something we've all done a lot of recently, you expose yourself to a potential identity theft threat.

Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Detective, Carlos Verdoni, said when shopping online make sure that the website you are buying from is a secure, legit site. When shopping in person he said to be aware of people who are asking you for too much information like a zip code or your card's three digit number, they already received that information from swiping the card. It's also important to check your credit report.

"TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian usually give you a free check of your credit once a year. So if you split them up into every four months you can use TransUnion in the beginning, Equifax in the middle, and Experian in the end and then that gives you three different checks for free in one year. So as long as you check your credit report and look at the stuff that's out there, what you may have tried to purchase or what people are trying to purchase in your name, it'll show up on your credit report," Verdoni said.

The detective said people shouldn't be afraid of putting a credit freeze on their account.

Along with making sure to check your credit report for fraud, it's important not to dispose of boxes from expensive gifts on your curb for everyone to see.

"Try and fold it inside out, people can't tell what it is. Again get rid of the label itself. The inside of a box is a brown cardboard box so if you put that out there they're not going to know what that is," said Verdoni.

Another way to protect yourself from getting your information stolen is to shred or cut up mail that has your name and address on it before throwing it out.

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