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5 Ways ID Thieves Target You at the Holidays

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The holidays are a busy and hopefully wonderful time for Americans, but those who aren't careful may make it an even better time for identity-theft scam artists.

With holiday sales expected to soar to the $602 billion mark and online sales rising by 15% this year, according to the security firm McAfee, consumers' smartphones, tablet computers and credit and debit cards will be more common targets than usual for ID thieves over the next seven weeks.

"The potential for identity theft increases as consumers share personal information across multiple devices that are often underprotected," says Michelle Dennedy, chief privacy officer at McAfee. "Understanding criminals' mindsets and being aware of how they try to take advantage of consumers can help ensure that we use our devices the way they were intended -- to enhance our lives, not jeopardize them."

To help Americans mitigate the threat of holiday theft, McAfee released this week its 12 Scams For Christmas list, in which the company highlights the dangers and urges special caution for holiday revelers.

Some of the scams:

The Android scam: Android users should be on the lookout for a "FakeInstaller" app. The programmers who created the bogus app can steal your smartphone codes to send pricey SMS messages to premium-rate numbers without your knowledge.

Gift scams: Holiday shoppers looking for popular gifts such as an iPhone 5 or an Xbox can fall victim via phone Web links, bogus "contests" on Facebook (FB) or Twitter (TWTR) or phishing emails. Always check out contest details with a retailer, and never fork over personal data, McAfee says. Software that's sent to you without you ever asking for it is particularly suspicious.

Travel trouble: Watch out for hotel, restaurant or train or airport Wi-Fi systems that asks you to download software to use their systems. Any legitimate travel port's Wi-Fi won't have you download anything -- you should be able to log right on. If you download software in those circumstances, you're begging to have your financial records compromised through dangerous malware.
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