10 Holiday Shopping Safety Tips: Keeping Your Data and Your Presents Safe this Season
The popular holiday saying “Tis the Season” too often also has a dual, sinister meaning. Unfortunately, holiday joy, fun, and shopping is often overshadowed by an increase in crime and credit card fraud. Thieves and scammers take advantage of all the holiday cheer and shopping and prey on unsuspecting holiday shopper victims. Here are 10 ways that you can keep your data and your purchases safe this holiday season.
- Shop online with gift cards instead of using your own credit cards or debit cards. Instead, purchase gift cards and use those to do your online ordering so that you don’t have to worry about your credit card or debit card being compromised.
- Be smart about sharing your information. Many scammers call and try to tell you all kinds of stories such as winning a holiday drawing, being chosen for a holiday surprise, etc. They will then ask you for information or details they will use to steal your identity or other data.
- Check your credit card balances online frequently. Now that almost all credit card companies allow you to log in and view recent transactions, you should log in at least once a week during the holidays to check on your recent activity. Make sure that all the recent activity posted is actually your activity. If you see any suspicious activity on your credit cards, report it right away.
- Keep track of your holiday purchases. During the holidays, at a time when you might be shopping more often than normal, it is easy to miss one or two fraudulent orders mixed in with the list of your purchases.
- Check shipping and delivery times. Be careful about the fine print when ordering. Shipping times listed are transit times from the day your package is shipped, not from the day your package is ordered. This common mistake can often lead to late deliveries and presents that miss your deadline.
- Don’t allow packages to be left at your front door. Many shippers will leave your packages at your front door. This time of the year, thieves are trolling through neighborhoods just looking for boxes left on door steps. Too often boxes are stolen right off of your front door when do no one is home. Some thieves even follow the delivery trucks and pick up the boxes right after they are delivered! Request that your packages be sent via a delivery method that requires a signature or you can send them to your work, a PO Box, or a friend’s house. If you have a delivery on the way and realize you won’t be home, you can always leave a note for the delivery driver and ask him/her not to leave the package, to come back on a different day, or you can often request to pick it up at the hub.
- Do not leave packages in your car after shopping. If you have multiple stops, do not leave packages in your car in between stops. Thieves hang out in mall or store parking lots specifically looking for people putting bags in their cars and then driving to another store. When you get home, take the packages out of your car immediately. Don’t even leave them in the boot. Sure, that would hide packages from people who didn’t see you put them in there, but these thieves are watching.
- Be aware as you go back to your car after shopping. If you are buying a lot of things, bring a friend with you so that you are not distracted and weighed down by your bags. Get your car keys out and ready in your hand before you leave the mall or store. If you don’t have a friend with you and purchased more than you can swiftly and safely carry, use a cart to transport everything. Don’t be afraid to ask mall security personnel to escort you to your car.
- Don’t fall for holiday scams. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!
Remember that many credit card companies offer buyer protection as a benefit for using their card. Don’t buy extra warranties if the products you buy are covered under your credit card. The other benefit of using credit cards during the holidays is that you can always dispute a charge if a temporary holiday store opened and sold you s