Offense wins games, but defense wins championships, right?! While we enjoy a bit of football during the most wonderful time of the year, it seems the best way to ‘tackle’ the holiday season is to develop a strong defense. So, how will you defend your identity throughout the holidays?

Here are a few tips to take into consideration:

Clean up your wallet.

Only carry the necessities with you, such as a driver’s license and one or two forms of payment. Also, if you have RFID cards, be sure to invest in an RFID wallet or card holder… or leave the RFID card at home to protect against electronic pickpocketing. Taking charge of your wallet before you hit the shopping malls will reduce the extent of damages in case of theft and also keep you on a budget.

Cash, check or charge?

Cash is always a safe form of payment and will keep you the most honest to your budget. If you prefer to write a check, consider using a gel-based pen to make it tougher for thieves to “wash” your checks. If you plan to pay with a debit or credit card, it’s important to keep in mind that, in the event of fraudulent charges, your debit card removes funds immediately and it can be a longer reimbursement process with the bank than with a credit card company. Last, be prepared to be offered store credit card incentives at the register of most major retailers. While it is tempting to enjoy an extra discount, remember that you are required to disclose your social security number when signing up (whether you’re typing it into a keypad or writing it in a paper application.) Every time you give out your social security number, you are at a greater risk of fraud... not to mention that your credit score will be impacted by the inquiry, establishment and use of this new line of credit.

Monitor your accounts.

Regularly review your checking and credit card accounts to ensure all pending and posted charges are your own. You may also want to consider pulling your credit report ahead of your holiday shopping to keep a sharp eye on inquiries and established credit in your name.

Be Wary of Scams.

A “secret sister” post went viral on social media promising up to 36 gifts if you pledged a $10 gift to someone. While it is possible that you may or may not get anything in return for engaging in this activity, you should know that it could open a window for identity thieves to prowl on your holiday spirit… not to mention that, as MSN stated, “it's the social media version of chain-letter gifting, which can be illegal.”