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Below are some holiday shopping tips to prevent identity theft from Identity Finder (, a company whose software helps prevent electronic identity theft.

  1. Download Updates. Do click "Update Now" when you receive security updates from Microsoft, Apple, and Adobe; Don't avoid these updates that arm you with the latest fixes before starting to shop. Web application exploits are very common now and can harm you if you simply go to a bad website.

  2. Create Complex Passwords. Do mix letter cases and use at least seven characters when placing an order online; Don't choose a word from a dictionary. Passwords are guessed very quickly by hacker programs.

  3. Thwart Hackers. Do use your wireless router's security features when surfing the web; Don't let hackers join your network where they can try to listen in on your shopping experience. Hackers can use network sniffers to eavesdrop on you.

  4. Use Onetime Credit Cards. Do shop online using a virtual credit card that expires after one use; Don't use your actual credit card numbers on less familiar websites. Some websites masquerade as shops but really just steal your credit card numbers.

  5. Verify Secure Connections. Do make sure the padlock symbol in your browser's status bar shows that you have a secure connection when conducting online financial transactions; Don't press submit if there is no padlock at a store. Padlocks represent an SSL connection, which protects any information you send.

  6. Check Your Credit. Do visit before and after the holidays; Don't wait until you receive a bill for a credit card that isn't really yours. Your credit report shows all your accounts and overdue balances.

  7. Lock Up Your Passwords. Do use a password manager to save all your passwords; Don't save passwords in your web browser without a master password to protect them. Password managers encrypt all of your passwords with a master password so you only have to remember the one.

  8. Enter Web Addresses Manually. Do go directly to a store's website by typing its address into your web browser manually if you plan to buy something; Don't click on links from an email message. These are known as phishing attacks and are very common.

  9. Shop From Your Computer. Do shop online using your own computer; Don't shop online using a public computer at a hotel or airport. Public computers can have spyware that records your information as you type it.

  10. Communicate Securely. Do call a business and read them your credit card information if you trust them and want to buy a present for someone; Don't e-mail or instant message personal information. E-mail and instant messenger are insecure.

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