Holiday season is prime shopping time, so it makes it the perfect time to consider implementing some best practices to help prevent identity theft and credit card fraud.
Here are my top 10 tips to implement this holiday season to help prevent you from becoming a victim:
- Use credit cards rather than debit cards for making any type of purchase. A debit card is tied directly to your bank account and your personal money. A credit card will not affect your personal funds should a fraud occur.
If you have used your debit card in the past to make purchases, consider asking your bank to cancel that card and issue one with a new number so you can have a fresh start. Only use the debit card as an ATM card at known bank locations – do not use it as a credit card for purchases.
- Dedicate one credit card or reloadable gift card with a low limit to use for online purchases or unknown vendors that you shop with.
- Reconcile your bank and credit card statements at least once a month. Check for unusual transactions or unauthorized activity. Reporting fraud early results for better results for stopping fraudsters and recouping losses.
- Shred all bank statements, bills will account numbers, documents with personal information, and store receipts that have imprinted bar codes.
- Don’t use online banking or make financial transactions on public Wi-Fi networks. Only use secure password protected networks for financial sites.
- Protect your credit card data from being stolen by using a RFID card sleeve or RFID secure wallet. If you suspect a compromise, report it to your card issuer and request a new card.
- Eliminate paying bills by check or auto debit drafts. Use your bank’s online bill pay service or one dedicated credit card to pay bills.
- Do not give out any personal or bank information over the phone or through email. A bank, credit card company, or IRS representative will never ask for confidential information via phone or email solicitation.
- Keep your bank and credit card companies updated on phone and address changes. Also be sure to make them aware if you will be out of town for an extended period of time or traveling internationally.
- Check your credit report for accuracy and correct any errors at least once a year. You are entitled to one free report annually. The three credit reporting agencies are: