INDIANAPOLIS – As Hoosiers head into one of the biggest shopping days of the year, the Attorney General’s office is reminding shoppers to watch out for identity thieves.
Experts say cyber criminals know it’s easier to breach your financial information around the holidays. More shoppers are spending more money and sometimes retailers relax their fraud controls to make transactions go through more easily.
Some retailers are strengthening their fraud protections after a number of data breaches that began last Black Friday.
"It's a wake-up call for consumers," said Terry Toliver, Deputy Director of the Consumer Protection Office for the Indiana Attorney General.
This year, 1200 Hoosiers reported identity theft to that office and 350 of those cases resulted from data base breaches.
"There really wasn't a lot that consumers could do to protect themselves from that particular scam, because it was somebody that hacked into the system," explained Toliver.
However, there are other ways consumers can protect themselves from identity theft.
Toliver said for smaller purchases, try to use cash. If you have to use plastic, opt for credit over debit.
"Whose money is going to be held up? If you use a debit card, your bank will take your money and hold that pending any dispute. Whereas, if you use a credit card, it's the credit card issuer's money that's going to be on hold pending dispute," Toliver explained.
Some credit card issuers even offer temporary account numbers to help you protect your real information.
If you are shopping online, look for a tiny lock at the bottom of your browser. It means you’re using a secure website to shop.
"Focus on those websites that we're all familiar with,” reminded Toliver. “If you've never heard of it before now is probably not the time to give a new company a shot."
Above all, keep a close eye on all your accounts for the next several days. If you see a mysterious purchase, call your bank and the Attorney General’s office immediately.