Shopping Safely

Safe Shopping Strategies for the Holidays

In today’s difficult financially atmosphere, identity theft and credit card fraud are crimes to be very aware of, especially as the holiday shopping season nears. While many people are more aware about online shopping security, identity theft occurs offline also. In fact, according to a February 2009 study by Javelin Strategy & Research, of the 9.9 million identity-theft cases reported in 2008, online theft accounted for only 11% of incidents. Stolen wallets, checkbooks, and credit and debit cards made up almost half.

Following these simple guidelines can help prevent this type of crime occurring to you.

Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet. This number can be used to find out everything about you.

Before you go shopping, look in your wallet and keep only the credit card and/or ATM card you really need. Most people carry all their credit card with them and if your wallet were stolen it could be devastating.

The news is filled with stories about ATM crimes. When using an ATM machine, try to use one inside your bank’s lobby. Try to use one in a well lit area. If you’re using your ATM card at a store, make sure no one is too close when you are entering your PIN number.

Select a PIN number that no one else could easily guess what it is. Combines upper and lowercase letters and numbers. Never write your PIN number down anywhere—memorize it.

It is common for store clerks to ask for your telephone number or a business caller to ask for your address, make sure you know who you are talking to and why they are asking for the information. You are usually not required to provide this information.

Be careful about the credit cards you use for online purchases. Try using cards with smaller limits as opposed to your American Express card or checking account ATM. In case your credit card information is stolen, having a low credit limit will prevent the thieves from doing excessive damage.

Be cautious of any suspicious emails that ask for your personal information. Sometimes you will be contacted and they will ask you for your information to verify their so-called information on file. Be leery of giving any information away unless you have verified the source first. Unsubscribe from any “junk” email.

Always check your bills and credit card bills for accuracy. It is very easy for someone who gets you credit card number and expiration date to put a charge and even an ongoing charge on your card unless you check it every time. Contact your credit card company immediately and report the charge.

Be sure to get rid of all the receipts and mail that you do not need that may have your personal information on them. Shredding them is the safest way to eliminate them.

Hopefully these few tips will help to keep you safe in this holiday shopping season and throughout the year.

About Marie Avery