Both consumers and business owners should protect themselves against the threat of ID theft and data breaches this holiday season, especially as retail and spending activity picks up. Businesses need to employ adequate ID verification initiatives to protect consumer financial data and maintain strong public relations. Similarly, consumers should be careful in making purchases or disseminating financial information. Ultimately, one's level of protection is up to them, but consider, for instance, how credit cards entail greater data security than debit cards. Perhaps consumers may want to put more purchases on their credit cards this year. Other tips include refraining from giving more financial information than necessary, only shopping from reputable online merchants and to regularly check credit or debit card activity. "During the holidays, consumers must exercise vigilance when shopping on or offline," said Jeff Paradise, executive director at IdentityHawk. "In addition, we can anticipate that online scams will only increase in the second half of 2011. We uncovered more than 104 million identity records stolen in the first six months of 2011 alone."