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How to not get your identity stolen while holiday shopping

Identity theft, which includes the stealing of Social Security numbers to use in tax refund fraud, is rampant. The number is often taken by computer hacking of a business, corporation, university or agency instead of the actual theft from a wallet.
Identity theft, which includes the stealing of Social Security numbers to use in tax refund fraud, is rampant. The number is often taken by computer hacking of a business, corporation, university or agency instead of the actual theft from a wallet. FBI

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is reminding shoppers to protect themselves personally and financially this holiday season.

In the past, shoppers only had to worry about someone stealing their wallets while they shopped, Hood said. Now account information can be stolen while shopping on the internet from home or from a retailer’s payment system.

The AG’s Consumer Protection Division recommends:

▪  Always park in well-lit areas and try to place purchases in the trunk so valuable items are out of view in your car.

▪  If a deal seems too good to believe, it probably is a scam.

▪  Check credit card and bank statements throughout and after the shopping season.

▪  If your debit or credit card is lost or stolen, report it immediately to your bank. It can take seven to 10 days for a card to be reissued if it is compromised.

▪  If you need to make returns, be sure you know the return policies set by each store.

▪  Only buy from trusted stores and salespeople. When shopping online, check feedback for sellers when applicable. Be wary of sites that have grammatical errors and broken links.

▪  Watch out for card “skimming” devices at ATMs, gas pumps and other places you use a debit or credit card.

▪  Check a website’s security before submitting a payment over the internet. Look at the site’s URL, which should start with “https” and/or contain a padlock symbol.

▪  Use computers or mobile devices with up-to-date software, anti-virus and anti-malware programs. Never open links or attachments from unknown sources.

To report fraud or scams, contact the AG’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-281-4418 or aginfo@ago.state.ms.us.

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