By Natalie Fultz
COLUMBUS, GA - Most of us have seen the box office comedy "Identity Thief" where Sandy Bigelow Patterson's identity is stolen...thousands of dollars lost.
But this is no laughing matter.
Identity theft is on the rise especially during the holiday season.
"It escalates because the shopping activity escalates because of that there's more opportunities for your identity to be stolen," Leonard Crain, president of BBB says.
So how are these criminals stealing your identity?
They contact you by phone or by email asking for personal information like your social security number or debit card information or they may go through your trash looking for checks or statements.
"If you give that out then your information has been compromised and there's a good chance that someone will unload your accounts for you," Crain says.
With online shopping on the rise and Black Friday deals hitting websites, you need to be extra cautious this year.
"You'll want to be careful that before you enter your credit card number, verify that the website you're going to do business with has a physical address, working phone number and you know who it is that you're doing business with," Crain says.
But there are some ways to protect yourself.
Never give out your information when someone has contacted you, only give it out if you've been the one initiating. Make sure you know why you're disclosing information and what it will be used.
If you do notice that your identity has been compromised immediately file a police report and contact the credit bureau's fraud department.
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