Protect Your Identity and Data

5 Ways to Stay Safe While Shopping During the Holidays

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For many Americans, holiday shopping is practically a national pastime. Maybe you’re an avid shopper who spends weeks creating an action plan or the type who procrastinates and makes a mad dash for last-minutes specials. Whatever your Black Friday shopping strategy is, staying safe is serious business.

From Black Friday on, whether you’re online, at a crowded store or in the parking lot, you need to be more aware of you personal safety and financial security. If you’re distracted or in a hurry, that’s when incidents can occur. Take these precautions to help protect you, your family and financial information.

1. Make sure you can carry the load.

Consider all that you’re buying and how you’ll get it to your vehicle. If you buy more than you can carry, you become potentially more vulnerable by becoming fatigued, plus you make yourself more visible to potential thieves. Plan ahead and arrange for a friend or store employee to help you take packages to your car.

2. Be on the lookout for identity theft while you’re online.

If you shop online, practice solid internet security and choose companies you know and trust. Check the background of any company you’re not familiar with. And remember – if any deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. While scam artists still run schemes in person or over the phone, they also work online to get you to click on a fake link or send your financial information to a bogus email address.

3. Keep your financial information away from wandering eyes.

Protect your credit card information, especially as you stand in line to pay. It’s an easy way to prevent identity theft and credit card fraud. Crowded stores can be an easy place for someone to steal your information, just by looking over your shoulder.

4. Leave a paper trail — for your own reference.

Save all your receipts. Along with needing them for returns, it’s also a good idea to confirm your purchases against your credit card or bank statement. Once identity thieves have your credit card info, they will make small purchases, or “pings” to see if the card is still active. You can help prevent further theft by consistently reviewing your statements for unusual or frequent purchases.

5. Have a plan to keep your children safe.

If you shop with children, rehearse what you will do in case you get separated. Make sure everyone understands where the central meeting place is and to ask mall personnel or store security employees if they need help.

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