Shoppers are sometimes overwhelmed by the pressures of holiday shopping and the festivities of the season. As a result, they are even more vulnerable to what the Social Security Administration calls one of the nation’s fastest growing crimes—identity theft.
According to the National Retail Fund, holiday spending increased this year as more than 226 million U.S. consumers took advantage of crazy-good discounts and 12 a.m. (or earlier) start times on Black Friday. Online shopping during Cyber Monday this year also surpassed 2010 levels.
To safeguard your personal information as you shop this season, AAA Financial Services offers these tips:
- Use cash or credit only. Compromised debit information puts your money at risk because the card is directly linked to your bank account. Credit cards offer greater consumer protection and less liability than your bank card.
- Clean out your wallet. Don’t carry excess credit cards or your Social Security card with you. For the cards you do carry, keep all account numbers and phone numbers at home.
- Search before you swipe. Tech-savvy thieves use inconspicuous tools such as skimming devices to steal your card information at ATMs, gas pumps and other pay terminals. Don’t use swipe devices that look out of place. Be sure to shield your PIN number as you punch it in or ask the cashier to run your card through the register.
Shoppers searching for deals online are urged to exercise cyber safety:
- Shop sites you trust. Stick with online retailers you recognize and make sure you are at their correct site. Misspelled domain names or sites ending with unknown domain names can be dummy sites used to capture your personal information.
- Shop secure. Before submitting credit card information, make sure the website is secure by looking for “https://” instead of “http://” in front of the web address.
- Stay off public Wi-Fi. Never use public wireless hotspots to do online shopping, banking or any activity that requires passwords or personal information.
A not-for-profit organization, AAA Oklahoma serves its 357,000 members across Oklahoma with emergency help on the road, auto travel assistance and a wide range of personal insurance, travel, financial and automotive services through its 43 retail branches, regional operations center and the Internet at www.AAA.com.