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By Jason Stipp | 11-23-2010 04:43 PM

Top Tips to Shop Safe This Holiday Season

Morningstar's Christine Benz on how to protect against identify theft both online and in-store.

Jason Stipp: I am Jason Stipp for Morningstar.

Overspending this holiday season isn't the only risk that should be on the shoppers' minds. Identity theft is also another important consideration.

But luckily there are a few simple steps you can take to safeguard your identity. Morningstar's Christine Benz is joining me today to give us some more tips on that.

Thanks for joining me, Christine.

Christine Benz: Jason, nice to be here.

Stipp: So, there a couple of different ways that people might be shopping this holiday season, online and in the store. There are a few different things to keep in mind for both of those. Let's start with the online environment; it seems increasingly more and more folks are doing their shopping online. There are some distinct characteristics there where you can really protect yourself from an identity theft standpoint. What are those?

Benz: Well, the first step, Jason, is just to make sure that your home security software on your computer is as up-to-date as it can possibly be, and make sure that you've also got the latest version of your browser system that's available, because usually they'll have the latest in encryption technology. So that's a good starting point.

Then, when you are shopping online, and you get to that point in the transaction where they are asking you to enter your personal information, your address and credit card number, you want to see that URL switched from HTTP to HTTPS. You want to make sure that happens because that ensures that you are switching to an encrypted situation, which would be safer for online choppers.

Stipp: And another way, I know that you can keep a record of your shopping while you're online, sometimes they'll send you an e-mail, but it's also good to take further steps to make sure that that transaction has gone through and it's what you expected it to be?

Benz: That's right. So, I would say either print that out or plan to save it, keep it in file of other receipts, so in case you do need to return something or something doesn't arrive on time or whatever it might be, you have some record that you made that purchase, so that's a great next step.

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