As the holiday season approaches, Mississippi's attorney general advises people to be especially cautious about sharing their personal information.
Attorney General Jim Hood said predators searching for their next victim use a variety of tactics. They will do everything from stealing wallets and purses to pretending to be someone they are not in order to get a person to give up their personal information.
“Prevention is key when dealing with identity theft," said Hood. "It is important for all Mississippians to be guarded with their personal information in order to keep their identity and credit score safe."
Hood offered some tips to help keep citizens protected during the holiday season.
* Pay with cash as often as possible.
* Carry only the identification cards, credit cards and debit cards that you absolutely need.
* Only give your Social Security number when absolutely necessary. Ask if you can use another form of identification.
* Ask that your Social Security number be removed from your driver's license.
* Shred documents that contain important personal information.
* Carefully review your credit card or bank statements to check for withdrawals or charges you don't recognize.
* Place passwords on your credit card, debit card, bank, phone or any other utility accounts you have. Avoid using easily available information such as your mother's maiden name, the last four digits of your Social Security number or your birth date.
* In addition to Identity Theft, shoppers need to be very aware of their surroundings to avoid being robbed and having Christmas gifts stolen. Be very cautious when going to and from your vehicle, especially at night. Try to park in well lit areas and keep your car keys in hand when walking back to your vehicle. Also avoid leaving packages in view inside your vehicle to prevent thieves from stealing them. Try to store all packages inside your trunk or at least keep a blanket in your vehicle to cover packages that may be stored inside your vehicle.
If you feel you have been a victim of identity theft, call the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's Office at 1-800-281-4418.
To learn more about protecting your identity, go to www.agjimhood.com, click on "resources and links" and then "forms and publications" and take a closer look at the Identity Theft Handbook and Pamphlets. A link to the Web site is provided below.