The air is buzzing with holiday excitement and cheer. This is an exceptionally busy time of year for most folks who are busily preparing for family gatherings and gift giving. But the hustle and bustle of the busy shopping season also creates the perfect opportunity for shady characters to try to steal your credit and personal information.
Oxford Press reports approximately 152 million shoppers will hit the country's retail stores for the holiday season, consumers will be using credit cards, checks and identification documents to purchase gifts, according to the National Retail Federation. More than 800 million records were lost or disclosed from 2005 to 2010 due to identity theft and fraud.
Take extra steps this holiday season to keep yourself and your personal property/information safe:
Before Leaving Home:
*Let someone in your life know where you are heading and what your time-line might be.
At The Mall:
*Park in well lit areas and be very mindful of where you parked. Don't find yourself wandering aimlessly mumbling “now where did I park??...”
*Lock your car doors and stow all valuables (including recent purchases) out-of-sight in your trunk area.
*Be on guard. Dig your keys out of your purse before you leave the safety of the store.
While At The Store:
*Try to limit how many credit cards you carry and how much cash you bring. Keeping money and cards close to your body (front pocket) is also an added safeguard.
*Limit exposing credit cards and keep track of all receipts.
*When shopping with children-keep them close and leave any clothing labeled with their name at home.
*If you don't feel comfortable buying or bidding on an item, or if you feel you are being pressured to place your order-don't do it.
*Bookmark the site you are buying from, print off the terms, save emails, and keep this information in a special folder and track their shipping progress.
*Use the safest way to pay on-line by using a credit card. Choose one card (Visa, MC) and keep your approved credit limit low.
*If you are bidding on an auction item, make sure you know ALL the details (new or used? Size? Box opened, written on, or damaged?) and double check shipping costs. A “deal” isn't a deal if you are blind-sided by high shipping costs.
Trust your instincts is important for on-line shopping..and life in general
Happy safe and productive shopping!