With the busy holiday shopping season just around the corner, savvy consumers may already be scouting out the best deals and sales events. After all, it’s a good idea to do your homework early in order to create a budget and stick to it. But the really smart shoppers are planning ahead right now for something else: identity theft and fraud.

The following statistics help paint a picture of how prevalent identity theft and fraud really is:

  • Every year for the past four years, December and January have seen higher than usual victim reports of financial identity theft to theIdentity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) call center.
  • Financial identity theft reports increased from 58% to 71.2% of total call volume from November to December of 2013, following the widely reported Target data breach on Black Friday.
  • Around 100 million Americans travel during the holidays, often relying on credit cards, online booking, and connecting over unknown Wi-Fi networks. Those are just the facts concerning identity theft and fraud that has already occurred, though.

What about the damper on your holiday spirits at having to worry about losing control over your personal data, finances, and other identifying information in the next few months? 74% of identity theft victims reported feeling stressed when dealing with their case and that emotional toll can last for weeks and even years.

How do you plan for such a thing? By knowing the potential threat and understanding how to reduce your risk of becoming a victim is a great place to begin. The ITRC, in collaboration with Generali Global Assistance, recently published a whitepaper on holiday-related identity theft to help consumers accomplish just that.

Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to minimize your risk of identity theft and fraud, starting with finding the most recent information on the types of frauds and scams that occur during this time of year. An upcoming webinar sponsored by General Global Assistance and the ITRC will arm even the most security-conscious shoppers with up-to-date information aimed at mitigating the risk of becoming a victim this holiday season.

The live, free event will feature Julie Jamsa, VP of Service Delivery, Generali Global Assistance’s Identity Protection Services; Eva Velasquez, CEO/President, ITRC; and Lisa Schifferle, Attorney, Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Consumer and Business Education. Topics will include a look at the data on identity theft and fraud from recent years, as well as a primer on what logical and feasible steps consumers can put in place—before, during, and after the holidays—to help ensure the safety of their personal data.

To register for this free webinar held on Tuesday, November 15, from 2:00 to 3:00 pm ET, click here.

Interested in more cyber news? Check out the ITRC blog to keep you updated and aware of the latest topics and events.