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How to Protect Your Credit from Identity Theft

Black Friday is just around the corner!  And whether that conjures up feelings of intense excitement or the urge to lose your lunch, the fact is you'll probably spend more time over the next few months than any other season wandering through crowded malls and surfing the web for the perfect gift. To an identity thief, this means one thing—extra opportunities to nab your credit card information and put a real damper on your holiday cheer! So be a smart shopper this year and take some additional precautions to protect yourself from identity theft and ensure your bank accounts, credit reports and credit scores stay safe and sound.

Try these 4 quick tips to get started:

1.) Choose credit over debit.

Unlike debit cards, credit cards aren't linked directly to your bank accounts and credit issuers generally have a 0 liability policy for unauthorized credit card charges. So, if the unfortunate does happen, you can rest assured the cash in your bank account will stay safe while you work with your credit issuer to report the fraudulent activity and cancel the card.

2.) Do your research before clicking "Submit Order".

Thousands of new e-commerce sites pop up online around the holidays. Some are great, but many are shady. Even if the price is super cheap compared to more mainstream sites, resist the urge to buy before at least doing a Google search and reading some consumer reviews. BBB.org is also a great place to check out the reputation of any legitimate business.

3.) Write "See Photo ID" on your credit card's signature line.

It might be easy for a thief to copy your signature, but it'll take Mission-Impossible-style Tom Cruise skills to copy your face and produce an ID when making a purchase with a stolen credit card.

4.) Keep an eagle eye on your credit card in restaurants and retail shops.

It only takes a few seconds for a waiter to run your card through a skimmer and store all your credit card information.  If you ever feel uncomfortable letting your credit card out of sight, take the safest route and just pay in cash.

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Joshua Heckathorn's picture

Joshua Heckathorn was President of Creditnet, is a credit expert and has been featured on CNNMoney, FOX Business, Yahoo Finance, The Street, and many other national publications during the past ten years.  He received a Bachelor of Science in Management (Finance) from Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Business and earned his MBA from Seattle University.

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