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Protect Your Identity on Black Friday

Hustle and bustle of busy shopping days and new theft technology can cause shoppers  to have ID compromised

(FARMINGTON HILLS, MI – November 14, 2011) – We all know that Black Friday will have masses of shoppers taking to area malls and stores. While some revel in the excitement of waiting in line with others to get that perfect early holiday gift on sale, identity thieves could be amongst those, waiting for a slip-up and an opportunity to steal your identity.

“Technology today goes well beyond pick pocketing or taking an unattended purse,” said Dorothy Barrick, GreenPath Financial Wellness counselor. “Cyber thieves have the Internet, radio frequency ID scanners and camera phones at their disposal in helping them steal credit card numbers and building a personal profile on an individual. It only takes small amounts of information and a few keystrokes to open up a new account in your name.”

New this season, many new credit cards contain tiny two way radios called radio frequency identification (RFID) chips. The technology lets you wave your credit card, passport or license in front of a nearby scanner, instead of having to slide the magnetic stripe through it. This makes it easy for thieves to employ electronic pick pocketing without touching you. RFID blocking products, like credit card secure sleeves, could help prevent the electronic stealing.

“It’s a fairly simple transaction,” said Barrick. “The electronic scanner sends a signal which is received by an antenna embedded into the card, which is connected to the card's RFID chip, thus activating it. It’s yet another way that ID thieves can steal sensitive data without you even knowing it.”

GreenPath reminds people about protecting their identity, not only on Black Friday, but, whenever they are shopping:

1. Before you leave your house, take out the credit cards that you know you will not be using. This will also cut down on temptation of shopping beyond your set gift list for the day.

2. It’s also a good idea to copy the front and back information on your card, so you have contact information quickly in case your card is stolen. Keep this in a safe place in your home.

3. Consider purchasing a secure sleeve to keep your credit card in, and safe from RFID scanners.

4. Do not carry your social security card with you. That number is vital in opening new credit accounts.

5. Watch where you leave your card when you shop. “Don’t leave it on the counter with people around,” said Barrick. “A simple click of a camera phone or good memory can capture your name, card number and expiration date. A thief can then use that number instantly to buy goods online.

6.  Keep your receipts in your purse or wallet, not in the bag. This will make it easier to track your merchandise spending and help you to stay within your budget.

7. If your merchandise bag is stolen, quickly go back to the store to report your robbery.  The thief might have a harder time returning the merchandise without a receipt & perhaps a quick thinking salesperson may be able to identify them.

GreenPath also gives three steps if you become a victim of identity theft this holiday weekend and throughout the season:

1. You need to contact the three credit bureaus and tell them that you have been a victim of identity theft.

Equifax fraud division
800-525-6285
P.O. Box 740250
Atlanta, GA 30374
www.fraudalerts.equifax.com

Experian fraud division
888-397-3742
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013
www.experian.com/fraud

Trans Union fraud division
800-680-7289
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634
www.transunion.com

2. You need to contact your creditors directly and ask to speak to someone in the security department. Freeze the existing account.

3. Contact local law enforcement and get a police report. This will serve as documentation that a crime has occurred.

“It can take anywhere from 20 hours to 600 hours to clear your name when you have been a victim of identity theft,” said Barrick. “By taking some preventive measures, you can ensure a smooth shopping experience on Black Friday and throughout the holiday season.”

 

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GreenPath Financial Wellness is a nationwide, non-profit financial organization that assists consumers with credit card debt, housing debt and bankruptcy concerns. Their customized services and attainable solutions have been helping people achieve their financial goals since 1961. Headquartered in Farmington Hills, Michigan, GreenPath operates more than 55 branch offices in Michigan, New York, New Hampshire, Colorado, Florida, Texas, Vermont, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Arizona and Wyoming. GreenPath also delivers licensed services throughout the United States over the Internet and telephone. GreenPath is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA). For more information, visit www.greenpath.org.