Protect your identity during the holidays

Published 12:40 am Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kids trying to sneak a look at their holiday gifts aren’t the only ones snooping around this holiday season. Please remember to protect your identity from prying eyes, along with your presents.

According to the Michigan Attorney General’s office, there are several things you can do to make sure thieves don’t get your identity. The most important step is to know who is getting your information. Never give out your Social Security number, account numbers, credit card numbers, driver’s license or state ID number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, e-mail address or other personal information unless you know who you’re giving it to and why.

Also, try to be extra cautious with online and over-the-phone shopping. A few questions to ask yourself when you are filling out those online forms and answering the operator’s questions: Am I familiar with this company or seller and their privacy policy? Are they asking me for more personal information than they need for this transaction? While you are online, be careful not to click on links sent in unsolicited e-mails — type in the Web addresses you know instead, or use firewalls, anti-spyware and anti-virus software to protect your computer.

Finally, after you’ve made your purchases, be sure to shred any receipts and paperwork with personal information before you recycle or throw them away.

If you encounter identity theft, contact the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division by calling (877) 765-8388 or visit

I look forward to hearing your comments on these important issues. Please feel free to contact me by calling (888) 373-0078 or e-mailing