Happy Black Friday! The experts at National Merchants Association hope you had a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
While on the topic of staying safe, let’s talk about how your money (and your identity!) can stay safe during the rush of holiday shopping.
With 1 in 3 Americans planning on raiding retail stores for the best deals today, and even more planning to make their holiday purchases online, this weekend is the prime time for ID theft and card fraud. The top purchases on Black Friday are pricy items like electronics, toys, and jewelry.
With all this being said, it’s easy to forget to check your credit card statements, watch your spending, and even watch out for identity theft. You’re working long hours, spending time with family, and getting caught up with the shopping frenzy.
So how can you avoid data breaches, ID theft, and the all-feared overdraft?
First of all, avoid using debit cards. Debit cards are a direct link to your bank account, which allows thieves to drain you dry if they get a hold of your information. If you must use plastic, use a credit card. There is a limit to how much you can charge, and you can review and dispute any suspicious charges later on. If you don’t have a credit card, use cash. It controls your spending, and your identity is safe with your Benjamins and Washingtons.
While you’re online, monitor your account. Keep track of where you shop, what you charge, and how much should be in your account at all times. When making holiday purchases online, shop on secure websites. The search bar should feature “https” and a lock, and most websites should feature a security seal trademark, indicating that the website is valid and verified by a security company.
Lastly, use common sense while shopping at stores and online. Be wary of emails that say “You’ve won a free giftcard!” and “Click here to redeem,” as these are most likely links that will decrypt your personal information for thieves. While at stores, don’t let your wallet out of your sight. Thieves may take your wallet, skimmers may scan your cards with a device for later use, and shady folks may look over your shoulder to memorize your PIN. When possible, only take 1 card with you when you shop, and keep it in your front pocket
Don’t be a part of the estimated 16 million people who will experience identity theft this year. Enjoy your holiday, and stay safe.