EZShield + IdentityForce have issued five tips today to help consumers protect themselves from identity theft during the holiday shopping season. These tips can help safeguard consumers whether they are purchasing gifts on mobile phones, keeping their children’s identity safe, or returning items.

“This year the number of breaches have been at an all-time high and we expect that identity thieves will continue to be active, if not more so, during the holidays,” says Rich Scott, chief commercial officer of EZShield + IdentityForce. “These are tips for consumers that can easily be put into action to protect themselves from a variety of scams. This is the season for enjoying time with your family and friends – not a time to feel the sting of identity theft.”

Mobile phones are expected to be a major source of purchases for holiday shopping. The percentage of online consumers who will use their smartphones to shop will grow to 16% this year from 12% in 2017, according to PwC’s annual survey. It may be fast and easy, but protecting your financial and personal information should be a top priority. Here are five tips for consumers to protect themselves:

° Take Precautions when Making Holiday Purchases with a Smartphone –Everyone has heard advice around avoiding using public Wi-Fi and using a secure payment method with strong passwords. However, identity theft scams are getting more sophisticated through the abundance of both fake mobile apps and ads found throughout social media. Before you think of making a purchase through an ad on Instagram or Facebook, or even downloading a coupon, perform an Internet search about the ad you received for words like “complaint” or “reviews” and you may uncover a scam related to the promotional offer.

° Be Smart about Application Downloads – During the holidays smart phones are often gifted, and there’s a lot of excitement to download new apps. Apple reported that during the week starting on Christmas Eve 2017, a record number of customers made purchases or downloaded apps from the App Store, spending over $890 million in that seven-day period. Be cautious about what you are downloading and pay attention to details. Scammers have been taking advantage of those signing up for subscriptions by luring them into a short-lived free trial that then converts into an expensive, recurring expense.

° Protect Children’s Identity on Gaming Consoles – While children will be eager to play on their new console, be sure to review the rules and set up the system with them prior to them playing. It’s important to create a strong password that includes upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Make children aware that game masters will never ask for login information. Before purchasing a game online, make sure the URL of the web site begins with “https”; use a credit card instead of debit card. View more tips here for protecting your child while gaming.

° Return Fraud – Remember to take receipts out of your shopping bags when you are returning items. You can have personal information on those receipts that identity thieves can use to steal your identity.

° Educate Tweens and Teens about Safe Online Shopping – Teens will be shopping online this year to buy holiday gifts for friends and family. It’s a great time to encourage teenagers to get a head start in protecting themselves from identity theft. Educate them on how to protect their bank accounts by managing passwords and using anti-virus software or internet security software.