SOURCE: Europ Assistance USA

November 20, 2007 09:37 ET

Black Friday: Europ Assistance Says Don't Get Bilked

Holiday Shopping Tips Help Consumers Avoid Fraud and Identity Theft

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - November 20, 2007) - While holiday shoppers are gearing up for what will be another frenetic Black Friday, Europ Assistance USA, the professional ally for people in crisis or distress, offering compassionate support and problem resolution, is offering the following tips to helps consumers avoid being bilked by fraudsters and identity thieves.

Tips for Dealing with the "Mad Rush":

     --  Watch out for Sticky Fingers

          --  Purses should always be zipped shut; men should keep wallets
              in their front pockets.

     --  Be a One-Card Carrier

          --  Only bring your credit/debit card and driver's license
              (leave your Social Security card at home locked in a safe).

     --  Keep the Junk in the Trunk

          --  Store all of your purchases in the trunk of the car -- where
              it is more difficult for a thief to break in.

     --  Ask for the Proof

          --  Proactively offer to show your driver's license with a debit
              or credit card purchase and question the retailer as to why
              they don't ask all shoppers for a form of identification.

               --  According to a recent survey by Visa and the National
                   Federation of Independent Business, many small
                   businesses inadvertently store sensitive customer
                   information data.

     --  Only 4 Digits Necessary

          --  Review your receipt and make sure your full credit card
               information is not included on the receipt.  Also, do
               not keep your receipt in the shopping bag.

Protection Tips for Online Shopping:

      --  Free Wi-Fi Is Not Free

           --  Do not use free Wi-Fi connections as many are set up by
               identity thieves as a conduit for stealing personal
               information.

      --  Your Computer Should be a Fortress

           --  Make sure that all anti-phishing and fraud/virus
               protection software is updated.

      --  Be More Creative with Passwords

           --  Change passwords on a regular basis...do not use
               passwords that are easy to figure out:  children's
               names, birth dates, etc.

      --  Do Business with the Right People

           --  Only shop with reputable online vendors.

      --  Just like Dealing with the Mad Rush, Use One Card

           --  Use the same credit card with all purchases and check
               credit card statements on a weekly basis.

"In today's economic environment, consumers are more conscious of spending and need to take the necessary steps to protect themselves," said Jessica Ashley, Director of Marketing, Europ Assistance USA. "While many consumers are anticipating the excitement of Black Friday, there is also a vast network of thieves and fraudsters waiting in the wings to target these vulnerable shoppers."

About Europ Assistance USA

Europ Assistance USA, headquartered in Washington, DC, is a part of the multinational Europ Assistance Group and its network of 71 companies, 5,000 employees and more than 850,000 service providers and medical personnel offering assistance services in 208 countries and territories around the globe. For close to half a century, the group has tailored solutions for assisting people wherever they may be and helping them respond to the unexpected throughout their daily lives. Services include emergency medical transportation, medical referrals, case monitoring claims management, identity theft resolution and data breach response services. Twenty-four hours a day at 34 assistance centers worldwide, multilingual assistance coordinators answer more than two calls per second and handle one assistance case every two seconds. www.europassistance-usa.com

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