Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.
The holiday season is behind us and gift return season is ramping up. You may have already been concerned about identity theft while doing your holiday shopping, but you might want to hold onto that caution if you’re returning unwanted gifts.
Return fraud is a huge issue in retail, and in an effort to protect themselves, stores will often request a driver’s license or government ID for returns without a receipt. This becomes even more common after the holidays, when customers are likely to say they don’t have a receipt for a gift they received.
The problem with presenting your ID is that cashiers are typically required by their employer’s return policies to enter your proof of identification and/or other information to their database. This puts you at greater risk of having your information or identity stolen in a corporate data breach.
Data breaches remain a commonly reported problem every year, with millions of passwords, financial information, email addresses, and home addresses exposed. In 2018, there were data breaches at Macy’s, Ticketfly, Under Armour, Saks Fifth Avenue, and many more businesses and organizations.
Tips for Reducing Your Risk of Identity Theft
If you have to make holiday gift returns this season, there are some steps you may want to consider in order to try and reduce your risk of identity theft.
Keep Your Receipts
A sales associate may still ask to see your ID or a credit card, even if you make a return with a receipt, but it’s less likely. If you received any gift receipts, keep them all in one place so you can easily find the one you need if you have to make a return.
New Year, New Passwords
It’s a good idea to change the passwords for all of your accounts every few months, but if you only do it annually, the start of the year is a good way to remember that it’s time again to do so. Don’t reuse any old passwords, as you may have been a victim of a past data breach and your information could still be sold on the dark web even now.
Take a close look at your bank accounts and credit card statements to make sure nothing pops up that you don’t recognize. If you do see something suspicious, report it as fraud to your bank or credit services right away.
A quick background check is a good idea, too, as it can possibly show you information to indicate that you’ve been a victim of identity theft. The sooner you know, the better. Cleaning up the mess after identity theft can be a long process.
Only Give Out Personal Information When Absolutely Necessary
The holiday season is about giving, but when it comes to your personal information, you should give as little as possible. The less often you give out your details, the fewer opportunities there are of being wrapped up in a data breach or identity theft.