That joyous spirit of the season won’t last very long if your wallet is nabbed or your identity is stolen during the holiday shopping rush. Police department records report that retail crime skyrockets by approximately 30 percent during this time of year. In other words, you are more likely to become an unfortunate statistics during your trip to sit on Santa’s lap at the mall than throughout the rest of the year. While not everyone is wishing you a holly jolly Christmas this year, you can protect yourself by following these six simple tips when you’re shopping online or in stores.
Silver and Gold
When you head out to do your holiday shopping, skip the expensive jewelry and avoid carrying lots of cash. A dangling purse can offer a tempting target, so if you must wear one, carry it tucked in close to your body. Paying with a credit card both in stores and online offers you more protection from fraud than using a debit card. And be sure to keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place. These will come in handy if you have to call to report your cards stolen.
May Your Days Be Merry and Bright
Just because the doors open at 4:00 in the morning doesn’t mean it’s a safe time to go. Whether you’re headed to main street or the mall, shopping during the daylight hours offers much more security. If you do have to shop after dark, be sure to bring along a family member or a friend, and park in a well-lit, populated area.
Do You See What I See?
While taking in all the festive sights and sounds can make the spirits bright, it can also dull your awareness of your surroundings. Careless shoppers are easy targets for criminals so be careful not to let down your guard. Always check out your surrounding area. If you see someone who looks suspicious, trust your instinct and head toward the nearest shop or security station. But being alert doesn’t just mean in stores. Proper vigilance during online shopping can also help protect you. Avoid responding to spam email, following unfamiliar links, or opening unknown attachments.
Santa Claus is Watching You
Unfortunately, he’s not the only one. The FBI cautions that criminals are likely to approach you during this time of year with scams and distractions intended to divert your attention from their ill intent. Even if you think you’re shopping from the privacy of your mobile device, today’s clever crooks may still have eyes on you. Research from WebRoot shows that a mere 40 percent of people use security apps and remote locks, while just over half fail to lock their devices. By downloading apps only from trusted sources, locking your smart phone and taking advantage of mobile security options, you can prevent exposing your personal information.
Home for the Holidays
Who doesn’t love being home for the holidays? In this case, it’s not only a welcoming experience, but also a wise one: your home’s network connection is much more secure than the public Wi-Fi at the library or local coffee shop. By restricting your online holiday shopping to your home or work computer, you can safeguard critical information, such as passwords, credit card numbers and other personal information.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace
The Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2012 Identity Theft Report reveals there was a new victim of identity fraud once every three seconds in 2012. By taking advantage of the services of LifeLock.com, which offers comprehensive identity theft protection, including 24/7 credit monitoring, data surveillance and customer service, you gain unparalleled peace of mind. And who doesn’t prefer visions of sugar plums to sleepless nights fraught with financial anxiety?
The three words that describe being victimized between Black Friday and New Year’s Day may well be “stink, stank, stunk.” However, by following these simple tips, you can thwart the criminals who prey on holiday shoppers and instead focus on enjoying the most wonderful time of the year.