PhotoShoppers who braved the malls on Black Friday might have risked some pushing and shoving but not a lot more.

Those taking part in Cyber Monday run the risk of having their identity stolen. The risk is greater because they are making their purchases online, where a data breach or one-on-one hacking can expose shoppers' financial information.

Nearly 13 million U.S. consumers were victims of some type identity theft last year, so it's a good bet that identity thieves will be out in full force this year, not just on Cyber Monday but for the rest of the shopping season.

Safety tips

Most consumers have heard the advice more than once, but it probably bears repeating. Here are some tips for keeping your identity safe:

  • Be savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots –Make sure you don't share personal or financial information over an unsecured Wi-Fi network. You'll know it's not secure if you can access it without a user name and password.
  • Make sure the site is legitimate – Before entering any credit card or personal information, look for a closed padlock on your web browser or a URL address that begins with http or https.
  • Protect your personal information – Make sure the information requested is only that needed to complete the transaction. Check the website's privacy policy to understand how the information will be used.
  • Keep a clean machine – Smartphones or other devices used for shopping should have up-to-date software.
  • Keep a paper trail – Save records of online transactions and check credit card statements as soon as they arrive. Immediately report any discrepancies.

Homeowner's policy may help

"An identity theft or fraud can have a major impact on a consumer, often leaving them to deal with the mess created by cyber criminals," said Richard W. Lavey, president, personal lines and chief marketing officer at The Hanover. "Many consumers may not realize their homeowners insurance policies may help provide protection against the burdens of dealing with identity fraud."

Lavey suggests reviewing your insurance coverage. He says the better insurance policies now offer expense reimbursement, proactive and restoration services, document replacement assistance, and credit card fraud coverage.

Already been victimized? The sooner you act, the better. The Federal Trade Commission explains what you should do.

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