TDCI Offers Identity Theft Prevention Tips for Holiday Shoppers

Wednesday, November 09, 2016 | 09:31am

NASHVILLE – As the hustle and bustle of the holiday season brings out the shoppers, it also brings out the scammers. The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance’s (TDCI) Division of Consumer Affairs reminds Tennesseans of basic precautions that can help ward off identity thieves.

“The hectic holiday shopping season is a prime time for crimes such as identity theft because consumers are often distracted,” said TDCI Consumer Protection Director Cynthia Wiel. “Tennesseans can reduce the risk of sensitive information falling into the wrong hands by remaining aware of both your surroundings and your belongings.”

The Division of Consumer Affairs encourages consumers to utilize the following holiday shopping tips: 

  • Avoid carrying a Social Security card, birth certificate, passport, bank information or paychecks when shopping.
  • Check your bank statements, credit card bills, and credit reports often.
  • When paying by credit card, don’t allow clerks to put your receipts in your bag; carry them in your wallet where they are safer.
  • When paying by check, never allow merchants to write your Social Security number on the check. Use a black gel ink pen to write checks, which will permeate the fibers and make it difficult for the check to be cleaned and reused.
  • When shopping online:
    • Be careful of wireless internet connections. Only use those that require a security key or certificate.
    • Shop on secure, reputable sites only. “https://” at the beginning of the URL indicates a secure site.
    • Never offer personal information, such as your mother’s maiden name or your Social Security number.
    • Read customer reviews before ordering.
    • Use a credit card, rather than a debit card. This protects your personal funds and prevents thieves from gaining access to your bank account.
  • Remember, some companies use “free trials” to sign you up for additional products and bill you every month until you cancel. What starts as a “free trial” might end up costing you real money. Learn more at

For more consumer resources, or to file a complaint, contact the TDCI Division of Consumer Affairs at 800-342-8385 or visit