Consumers spend more time shopping online and in stores around the holiday season more than any other time of year. Many are distracted with the excitement of holiday shopping and busy environments to not notice the possibility of identity theft around the holiday season. Paying attention to the possibility of identity theft around the holiday season.
It doesn’t matter if you shop using a credit card, debit card, personal check, or cash you withdrew from the ATM. It also doesn’t matter if you shop in brick and mortar stores, or if you do your holiday shopping online. You need to be aware of the risks associated with shopping during the holiday season.
Using your financial information more frequently to pay for merchandise automatically puts you at an increased risk for identity theft…and thieves and hackers are aware of this.
Being Distracted and Busy Can Cost You…Literally…
No matter where you go during this holiday season—be it a store, restaurant, or even your company’s holiday party—be aware of your surroundings.
- Be mindful of your surroundings.
- When making a purchase, don’t pull out your wallet; have your credit card or cash in hand
- Be aware of where your purse or wallet is at all times—especially if you are juggling tons of shopping bags.
- Ladies, avoid carrying large purses as these can attract pick-pocketers.
Online Shopping Might Be Quicker, But It Isn’t Safer…
If you are the kind of person that prefers online shopping, especially during the holiday season to avoid busy parking lots and stores, there are other risks to be aware of.
- Never buy from websites that aren’t secure or encrypted.
- Do make sure each site has a firewall or “lock” symbol.
- Never click on unfamiliar links.
- Use a retailer’s site whenever possible.
It’s the holidays, so shop until you drop! Just make sure it’s where you are most comfortable…
Public Internet Use Isn’t Very Secure
Try not to use public Internet services, such as at a library or Internet cafe to do your online shopping. Identity thieves can easily access this same Internet source, and they know exactly how to get your financial information from this unencrypted source and open network.
Be Aware of Skimming Devices
A skimming device is what criminals use to rob your credentials and financial information. The criminals add these devices to credit or debit card readers, resulting in a copy of your credit card or debit card details. They will use this information to create the same card and eventually make illegal purchases. Pay close attention to the card readers at the stores where you shop.
Often times, you won’t know that your identity has been stolen until after the holiday season has ended…and until it’s too late. Your first clue may be when you receive the next month’s statement. Some people don’t even pay attention to their statements right away, making them more susceptible to additional fraudulent charges.
After the holidays, be sure to go through your monthly statement with a fine tooth comb. Don’t take for granted that all the purchases made were yours.
Meet with an Identity Theft Lawyer
If you do find that you have been violated by an identity thief, then see an identity theft lawyer right away. He or she can help advise you on the next steps, and how to best resolve the situation with as little damage to your finances and credit as possible.
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