Watertown— Whether you are shopping online or using your credit card at the mall this holiday season, do you wonder what happens to your personal information? Identity theft is on the rise in the United States, according to identitytheft.info- 15 million people are victims of identity theft annually with a net loss of $50 billion.
ABC50 spoke with State Trooper Sara Vandusen who has been with the New York State Police for 5 years. In Watertown, New York alone there are 6-10 identity theft victims each month. Luckily, identity theft cases remain neutral, not rising any higher this holiday season.
Trooper Vandusen stated that, “Sometimes it’s someone you know that got access to your pocket book, but it is often strangers and identity theft is not as high through online transactions the way people may assume.”
In fact, according to Trooper Vandusen, going out to dinner and handing over your credit card to a waiter would place you at a higher risk of identity theft. Shopping with your credit card in stores, restaurants, and public settings makes you more vulnerable at having your information stolen. Trooper Vandusen explained the process, as to how shopping experiences can make you more vulnerable:
“Your credit card transaction is stored into a computer where it is transferred elsewhere, usually in another state and who knows how secure your credit card and billing information is there? Someone can easily take your information and start charging your credit card. This is more likely to happen than if you were to actually do an online transaction.”
According to Trooper Vandusen, there are ways people can reduce the chances of having their identity stolen:
· Use cash when ever possible, rather than using your debit card or credit card.
· Keep an eye on your credit card statements and make sure your credit card company has fraud protection policies in place.
· Shop at bigger named stores or stores that have strict security measures in place.
· Always use a secure connection when you are ordering something online.
· Make sure your credit card company has up to date contact information, so that they can contact you if they detect suspicious activities.
· If you must, purchase identity theft protection.
· If you are renting or own a home, always carry renters insurance or homeowners insurance in case someone breaks into your house and steals your purse or other items.