During the holiday season, consumers tend to make a greater number of purchases than they do during the rest of the year. They also tend to be more distracted and face an increased risk of identity theft during the holidays. There are numerous ways an identity thief can take advantage of you, whether you’re shopping with credit cards, shopping online, using online banking, or withdrawing money from an ATM. However, there are steps you can take to avoid identity theft. Busy and distracted shoppers are targets for identity thieves. When shopping, be sure to be aware of your surroundings and watch out for pickpockets. After completing a transaction, make sure you put your wallet safely away to protect your credit cards and ID. If you’re paying with a credit or debit card, it may also be helpful to keep the number concealed just in case someone tries to take a picture of the card with a cellphone. If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, be sure to report it immediately. File a police report and get copies of the report. If you are military personnel and would like assistance in pulling your reports and ensuring you are protected against thieves, call the Financial Readiness Program at 573-596-2078 to schedule a free confidential appointment.