Christmas Shopping Security
It’s the number one complaint
from consumers and it only takes a moment for you to
become a victim. While you search for holiday bargains,
identity thieves are searching for targets - unsuspecting
consumers. Here are some tips to help you safeguard
your identity and other valuables:
1) Protect your account numbers - Most stores only
print the last four or five digits of the charge account
on your receipt. However, some stores haven’t caught
up with technology. If the merchant makes an impression
of your charge card, be sure to ask for any carbons
that are part of the receipt. “Dumpster divers” can
lift account numbers from discarded carbons to steal
your identity and your account information.
2) Protect Your Social Security Number - If you
are asked to provide a SSN when making a purchase, challenge
the cashier as to why they need this information. Request
that some other form of ID be used instead of your SSN.
There is no valid reason for them to request this information.
You provided it when you applied for your account so
they should already have this on file.
However, if you’ve opened a new account, don’t be surprised
if the cashier asks to see some form of picture ID,
such as a driver’s license. Don’t view this as an imposition,
remember that the store is actually taking steps to
protect you - making sure that you are the account holder.
3) Keep an eye on your charge cards and receipts -
Don’t let your charge card leave your sight. Most cashiers
will keep your card so that they can verify the signature
on the receipt. However, sometimes they simply swipe
your card, then hand it back to you or put it on the
counter for you to retrieve. Check that the card you’ve
been given back is yours and not someone else’s. Occasionally,
mistakes can happen, especially when the store is busy.
Also, make sure that you take your receipts with you.
You’ll need them to verify your purchases when your
bills come in January and February.
4) Watch for pickpockets - Professional pickpockets
love the holiday shopping season. Open backpacks, large
shopping bags and unstrapped purses are a pickpockets
dream. "Be wary of the distractions around you, because
that's what the pickpockets like. They usually work
in teams," said Edward Gross, a Chicago police officer.
“They usually work in teams. For example, one of the
team members fakes a fall and when an innocent person
tries to help that's when the other pickpocket lifts
the victim’s wallet.”
5) Use a credit card and a secure site when shopping
online - Paying by credit card is the safest way
to pay online. It protects your legal right to dispute
charges for goods or services never received, never
ordered or misrepresented.
When you get to the merchant’s payment page, the “http”
at the beginning of the url address should change to
“https” or “shttp”. This is a sign that the site is
encrypting or scrambling your credit card information
as you send it to them. Many browsers will even alert
you of this via a pop-up window. Whenever possible,
print and keep a receipt of your online transaction
in case you need it later.
About the author:
© 2004, www.yourfreecreditreportnow.com
Author: James H. Dimmitt James is editor of "TO YOUR
CREDIT", a weekly free newsletter to help you manage
your personal finances. Subscribe to the newsletter
by visiting http://www.yourfreecreditreportnow.comHe
is also author of “Identity Theft - How to Avoid Becoming
the Next Victim!” available at http://tinyurl.com/bc45