12/13/2012 09:24 am ET Updated Dec 13, 2012

Why Santa Doesn't Know If You've Been Naughty or Nice

I love this time of year! It's so festive and joyful, and it's wonderful to spend time with loved ones. It's a time when we want to be extra-generous to our family and friends and we savor the smells and sounds and the nostalgia.

And during this time, we know that Santa is making a list and checking it twice to see who's been naughty and who's been nice. Unfortunately, we don't make it very easy on Santa and it's becoming increasingly more difficult for him to know who has been naughty and who has been nice.

The problem is identity theft. It's not something we talk about at Christmas but it's as much a problem at Christmas as any other time of year! Identity thieves are becoming increasingly sophisticated and they can learn a lot of information about us even from a stray piece of trash we've discarded in our weekly garbage or from information we post about ourselves online... especially when we're out shopping for last-minute gifts. Even something as simple as leaving out a credit card for a few minutes at the cash register can be enough for a thief to get the number and start spending.

The result? Millions of adults reported being victims of identity theft and the number is on the rise, especially as we share more information about ourselves and as technology becomes more sophisticated.

A moment of identity theft today can mean months or even years of difficulty as you try to extricate yourself from the situation. And it's so easy to happen in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas shopping season.

This year, one of the best gifts you can give yourself for Christmas is an increasing awareness of identity theft.

• Be careful who you leave your credit card information with.
• Shred all discarded documents that have personal information on them.
• Be careful about what you share on and off the internet.
• Watch your credit card invoices for products and services you did not purchase, and dispute that information with the credit card companies.
Most importantly, pull your credit reports regularly through the year and check for information on your reports that does not line up with reality! Make sure that the only person on your credit report is you!

Santa has a lot of people that he needs to deliver presents to and he spends 364 days of the year getting ready. So make his job a little easier by making sure that you are the only person being you!

Do you have a credit question? Email me

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