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Beware of Thieves and Hackers this Holiday Season

CBS News, By Dave Johnson

Thieves and hackers never take a vacation, so your privacy and personal information are always at risk. You're especially vulnerable this time of year, though. Not only do you spend more time interacting with retailers, but thieves are in high gear as well, hoping to take advantage of your more active shopping habits.

There are a variety of specific threats you need to contend with. You can mitigate a lot of risk by using common sense. According to a survey conducted by the data risk management firm Identity Theft 911, more than half of the respondents would provide personal information that is not needed to complete a transaction -- like a Social Security number -- despite being "very concerned" about the possibility of identity theft when shopping online. So to stay safe, keep these risks in mind.

Phishing mail. Email is still a significant concern, but hopefully one that you by now have learned to manage and mitigate. Phishing, for example, remains a huge illicit industry; according to security vendor Kaspersky, over 37 million people were attacked by phishing email last year. The remedy is simple. Don't click links in emails; always navigate to websites by typing the URL into your browser or use a stored favorite. Read more.