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Shop Smart This Holiday Season

November 16, 2021

Shop Smart This Holiday Season

As if you needed another thing to worry about this holiday season. Between the shopping, wrapping, decorating and turbo planning that are hallmarks of the holiday season, it's easy to become overwhelmed and distracted. But beware. Your inattention is exactly what credit thieves are banking on. As the craziness that is the holiday season takes over, keep in mind these credit card safety tips.

Don't Skip the Basics

Is the back of your credit card signed? This may seem like a no-brainer, but many people leave the signature strip empty, allowing fraudsters who pluck it from a purse or wallet to make the card their own. It's also a good idea to keep your card out of view. That girl behind you in line may be texting, or she may be taking a photo of your credit card. Probably not. But why risk it? And, please, don't share images of your new credit card on social media!

Be on guard for skimming devices. Thieves have been known to add these skimmers to ATMs or gas station pumps to steal users' credit card information. Although skimming devices are difficult to detect, using ATMs or gas pumps that are in well-lit, highly visible locations reduces the likelihood that a thief has had the opportunity to add a skimming device.

In fact, consider using a digital wallet, like Apple Pay or Google Wallet. These applications provide an extra level of encryption to your transaction and allow you to avoid pulling the card out of your wallet.

Speaking of Digital

Convenience and lack of crowds make online shopping extra attractive during the holidays. Here too, consumers need to be vigilant about how they share their credit card information. Always make sure the online store your buying from uses a secure network. You can identify this attribute by looking for the closed padlock icon next to the URL or by ensuring that the web address begins with "https," as opposed to "http." The "s" stands for "secure."

Never shop online using a public WiFi connection, such as the one at your local coffee shop. These connections are not secure and can be easily hacked by cybercriminals to intercept your financial information or plant malware on your device.

Be wary of creative phishing scams this time of year. That email touting a great price on the perfect gift may be an effort to get frazzled shoppers to submit financial information without looking too closely. Always be suspicious of unsolicited emails and, for that matter, anyone asking for credit card information when you did not initiate the transaction.

As credit thieves become more sophisticated, credit card issuers are developing new credit security features, such as giving cardholders the ability to generate a single-use credit card number for online transactions. Still, the best defense, especially during this busy time of year, is to be aware. With a little knowledge, and perhaps some deep breaths, credit thieves won't be able to hone in on your holiday cheer this year.


Continued Learning

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