Holiday shopping safety: Protect your money thieves - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Holiday shopping safety: Protect your money thieves

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Black Friday is just around the corner, and with deals moving to the virtual world, a record number of shoppers are expected to buy their goods online, but do you know what to watch for to keep your Internet identity safe?

 Holiday shopping means you'll likely be spending more at stores, whether its cash, check, debit or credit.

 "The thieves, the criminals also know that and often target people more so during those times when they're using them more often," Lt. Scott Baxter of the Dubuque Police Department said.

Here are some tips from law enforcement:

 "If you're in stores and you're physically using your credit card in that environment, obviously keep yourself aware of your environment. Who's around you? Most times, it's as simple as somebody looking over your shoulder and trying to steal your information. Same thing applies to ATM machines," Baxter said.

Also, Baxter says you should shred all receipts and bank documents as thieves might check your trash.

 Dubuque Bank and Trust VP of Operations and Finance Bret Tuley offers these tips: Avoid using checks except for paying bills as your account information is printed on them. Only carry the cards and identification you really need, and don't let your cards out of your sight because thieves can scan your card in seconds and steal the information.

 Also be careful about information you give filling out in store credit applications, and don't read your credit card information on a cell phone where others could overhear you.

 If you do suspect theft, Baxter says you should call local law enforcement and your financial institutions.

 Online shopping experts say use web sites of companies you trust, and if it supports Pay-Pal, it is usually safe. Tuley also warns of "spoof" Web sites that look similar to banking or shopping sites, but are fake. Also, look for the lock symbol on your browser to indicate a secure server.

Another tip from experts is to check your credit report. Annual Credit Report is the only Web site the Federal Trade Commission has authorized to get a yearly copy for free. They say other sites may not truly be free and start charging fees after an initial check. You can also call 1-877-322-8228 to request a copy.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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