With the holiday shopping season being one of the busiest times of the year, it is also the period in which people become more vulnerable to identity theft and other crimes. Here are some tips to keep your wallet and identity safe when heading out to the stores this holiday season:
- Carry as little cash as possible and pay with a credit card, but when you do, be wary of those around you. Thieves can steal your information just as easily as they can at an ATM by simply looking over your shoulder or taking a picture of your card with a smartphone. In addition, pay attention to the store clerks and question them if they appear to write something down or hold on to your card for too long. There have been cases of clerks stealing credit card information.
- Make sure you upload proper security software to your phone if you plan to use it while shopping. Thieves have ways of hacking into phones to steal personal information through public Wi-fi networks.
- Try not to overload yourself with packages. It becomes easier to lose things and you make yourself a target when your attention is directed elsewhere.
- Don't leave valuables in your car in plain sight. Store everything in your trunk.
- Be wary of strangers coming up to you. Many thieves will use this as a distraction while they take money or belongings from you.
- Check your credit card statements and transactions frequently. The sooner you spot something that doesn't look right or something you didn't purchase, the sooner you can take action to dispute it or cancel the credit card.
- Be careful when carrying a bag or purse. Make sure to take one with a zipper and always put credit cards back in immediately after use.