Our top holiday shopping tips for preventing identity theft may come in handy around the busy holidays when everyone is out shopping. If you are reading this article around the holidays, you will quickly learn about a few ways to prevent identity theft and if not, you can still apply these top holiday shopping tips in your daily shopping practices.
The risk of identity theft tends to be higher during the busy holiday season when predators are also out there shopping for vulnerable people who are kinder than during other times of the year with pockets full of credit cards, cash, and gift cards. During these times, shoppers must be even more diligent about sharing their information with total strangers asking for any king of personal information. The busiest holiday shopping season is around the end of the year and there are super special shopping days which are even busier than others including Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, Super Saturday, and Father’s Day. The top 5 holiday shopping days of the year are between December 18 and 24. These 5 top shopping days account for 33% of all holiday sales and people must apply our top holiday shopping tips as much as possible.
Now that we have established which days most of us will go shopping, let’s go over the top 5 holiday shopping tips to avoid identity theft:
1- Avoid shopping on the busiest holiday shopping days. Be the first to change the trend and spread your shopping over less busy and most unpopular shopping days and times. There are a few reasons for this suggestion but mainly these busy shopping days are chaotic and can cause someone to lose credit cards and be targeted by identity thieves who are also busy making money on these most popular shopping days. There are many ways that identity thieves may go about stealing someone’s identity to commit fraud including skimming, social engineering, pretexting, and playing helpful or helpless to get information. This doesn't mean we don’t have to help others but rather we have to be more diligent when such requests tend to increase during the period when people are more willing to helping others.
2- Beware of individuals who get too close, especially during your ATM withdrawal transactions. Credit card skimming is a common practice to steal your card information using handheld devices. Notice any malfunctioning credit card processing machines which might have installed skimming devices. Credit card skimming may now even be a mobile crime thanks to RFID tags and new skimming devices. Basically, a skimmer could use or even build a device and walk through a crowd stealing card information from credit cards with RFID tags. The original credit cards with less security controls were easier to hijack but today, the new generation cards use encryption. However, as RFID technology gains popularity with credit card companies, hackers may develop new skimming methods. Learn more about the ATM skimming scam.
3- Use cash for purchasing most items especially small items which are not worth sharing your card information with others. Using less credit cards and sharing less personal information is one of the main recommendations of the Identity Diet program and Identity KAOS principles. Also, avoid carrying all kinds of cards in the wallet or purse. Select a card that offers the most rewards and go shopping, keeping the rest in a safe place at home.
4- Consolidate as many purchases as possible into one purchase from one retailer or website. This will also ensure you share less of your personal information.
5- And lastly, check your account statements carefully when they arrive. It is even better if you can frequently check your account information online to detect any unauthorized transactions as soon as they occur. If you notice any unknown transaction, contact the bank immediately and follow up.