Protect Your Finances Online And In Store

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With Thanksgiving little more than a week away, many people are turning their attention to shopping, both online and in stores.  Because of the dramatic increase in retail traffic on both fronts at this time of the year, it’s important to revisit many of the precautions that need to be taken in order to protect your financial wellbeing.  A new report relates some vital tips from the Sheriff’s Office of Stafford County, Virginia.

The first set of tips focus on those who are going to be doing most of their shopping in the store.  Safeguarding your credit card information will be critical in this regard.  Many shoppers probably don’t realize that all it takes to put yourself at risk is to leave your card out in the open for too long.  Someone could snap a photo of the card with their phone and suddenly have all they need to impersonate you online.

There are a few ways to get around this.  You can avoid using a credit card in the first place.  Hit up an ATM ahead of time or plan to use a short-term payment card that has a low limit.  If you do have to use a credit card (or a check, the numbers of which are something else that thieves could acquire), then only swipe when you’re ready to go, covering the numbers and your name as you pull the card out of a purse or wallet.  That way, you’ll move too quickly to be susceptible to thievery.

You also want to protect yourself as you’re heading to your car.  There have already been reports of thieves trying to abscond with shoppers’ videogame systems as they head to the car.  Minimize your risk of exposure by limiting how much you carry at any given time and heading straight to your vehicle.  Place items in the trunk so they’re not visible, and if you’re making multiple trips, stop off at home to drop off the gifts.

Safety must also extend to the online space.  Only use those sites that you can be sure are legitimate, as often signified by either a padlock or the https designation at the beginning of a web address.  If you’re using your phone for mobile transactions, make sure you’re on a secure WiFi connection.

You shouldn’t shop at a site unknown to you just because you received an email alerting you to a fantastic deal.  Such phishing scams are common around the holidays as frauds try to trick shoppers into giving them their sensitive information.  If sites require you to enter passwords, make sure to associate different ones with each account so that one falling into the wrong hands doesn’t compromise your entire online profile.