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Thieves lurking online during the holidays

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PIEDMONT, N.C.-- Holiday time is prime time for thieves to be lurking online for your personal information.

It can happen just about anywhere, with any kind of purchase, to anyone.

It happened to Vanessa Butler.

She was looking at her checking account online when she saw a huge withdrawal.

"The purchase was done in Honduras. I've never been to Honduras, so I was like that's not me," explains Vanessa Butler, an identity theft victim.

The $3,500 transaction drained her account. Butler pays her bills online, shops online, and does online banking but she says she smart about where she spends.

"How they say separate the lock from the key, I don't keep the card with the pin number or anything of that nature," explains Butler.

Lakeitha McIntosh is an expert with Legal Shield identity protection.

She says while even if online shopping isn't your thing, your personal information can still be accessed.

"Your social security number is used when you go to the doctor or dentist; your social security number is out there whether you shop online or not," explains Lakeitha McIntosh, with Legal Shield.

Experts advise you to look at every transaction on your account.

Thieves won't always steal large hundred or thousand dollar amounts, sometimes they will start off small.

"They may start with a $6 charge here, a $2 charge there just to see if anyone raises a red flag then they'll go to a larger purchase," explains McIntosh.

Draining an account can happen in a matter of seconds but in Butler's case it can take months to get that money back.

"I have to be even more vigilant and I think I'm pretty vigilant," says Butler.

Experts say don't keep your social security card or pin number in your wallet.

Also, thieves will steal kids' identities to set up accounts.