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Buyer beware, caution urged when holiday shopping online

AAA: 1 in 3 Floridians has been victim of identity theft in past two years

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TAMPA, Fla. – One in three Floridians is more concerned than last year about the security of personal information when buying gifts online, according to a recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey. Nearly half of those polled will do the majority of their holiday shopping on the internet, a 21 percent increase from two years ago.

Online shopping is the new norm.

The majority (79 percent) of shoppers say they will do at least half of their shopping on the web, compared to 53percent who say they will do at least half of their gift buying in a brick-and-mortar location. Nearly, two in five 38 percent will use their smartphone to purchase gifts this year, a 9 percent increase over 2017.

“Shopping online allows consumers to avoid the crowds and shop at their convenience,” said Matt Nasworthy, Florida Public Affairs Director, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Online shopping is also an area of concern for many customers, in regards to data security. We encourage shoppers to only purchase gifts from trusted sources and enroll in an identity theft protection program."

When will Floridians shop for gifts?

November is the busiest time of year for holiday shopping, according to AAA research. The top shopping days for consumers all fall in November: Black Friday (50 percent), Cyber Monday (45 percent), and Thanksgiving Day (22 percent). Floridians plan to spend an average of $1,012 for presents in 2018 - a spending increase of 6 percent over last year.

What are shoppers buying?

  • Apparel --65 percent
  • Gift Cards--58 percent
  • Toys--39 percent

Theme park tickets are also popular gifts for Floridians to buy. More than one in four will buy theme park tickets this holiday season.

AAA Holiday shopping Tips

  • Use Discounts – Search for retailer coupons online or join mailing e-mail lists for exclusive discounts. Savvy shoppers looking for a bargain this holiday season can utilize the benefits of membership organizations like AAA. AAA members receive instant discounts at many retail locations and theme parks, including Reebok Outlets, The UPS Store, Sprint, and Universal Orlando Resort.
  • Sign up for a credit monitoring service. AAA members receive essential ProtectMyID coverage free of charge. Included in this member benefit are daily credit monitoring, email alerts, fraud resolution support, identity theft insurance, and lost wallet assistance. 
  • Review your credit card statement, bank account, and credit report regularly. Be on the lookout for any unauthorized transactions and report them immediately to the affected account.
  • Do not respond to unsolicited requests for personal information. Identity thieves utilize “cold calling” or “phishing” schemes to solicit personal information, including your name, birthdate, social security number and bank account number over the phone, by mail, or online.