With the holidays quickly approaching, consumers across the country look to the internet and their favorite stores to pick up the hottest gift items. Investment professional Megan E. Koopman provides guidance on how to safeguard your finances during the peak season of identity theft.

“The threat of credit card fraud looms heavily at this time of year,” said Koopman, CFP® at MK Financial Solutions. “Whether you are protecting yourself from credit card information being stolen online or having it lifted in the large shopping crowds, a number of measures can be taken to ensure your monetary safety in these closing months of the year.”

Koopman provides a few safe practices to deter those from taking advantage of your good credit. She says that if you choose to shop with a debit card to keep your holiday budget under control, opt to sign for a debited purchase whenever possible rather than providing your PIN number. This prevents many identity thieves from discovering your PIN number from a store’s keypad. Koopman goes on to emphasize that should you choose to put your purchases on a credit card, utilize your credit card company’s safety features by frequently checking on the status of your card to ensure you have not fallen victim to fraudulent charges. Some credit card companies also offer alert services that will notify you through your mobile phone or email if any suspicious activity presents itself on your account.

“It’s important to look beyond your immediate shopping surroundings by destroying all risks of future fraud,” adds Koopman. “Be sure to fully destroy mail from your credit card company or bank, receipts and invoices using a shredder. Removing a paper trail to your account information can decrease your chances of having your identity and credit information stolen.”