Lights are going up, carols are playing on the radio, and since early November, Black Friday sale promises have been publicized: it’s holiday shopping season!
While you’re bargain-hunting, though, you need to focus on safe shopping practices. Here’s a few tips to help you get the most out of the shopping season—without putting yourself, your identity, or your finances at risk.
Black Friday Tips
- Make photocopies of y our credit cards so that you’ll have the account number and customer service phone number if your wallet is lost or stolen.
- Be sure your cellphone is fully charged before you hit the road. Shopping in a group? Make sure everyone’s cell is fully charged, so you can find each other if you get separated. As an extra safety measure, pick a specific meeting spot within the store or at the mall to regroup.
- Choose your parking spot wisely. Avoid parking next to vans or large trucks or in secluded, unlit areas, especially if you are hitting the stores before sunrise.
- Make a mental or written note of where you parked your car to avoid wandering around looking for it later. (Suggestion: use your phone to take a picture of your general parking area so you can identify it again later.)
- Check the back seat and the area around and under the car before you get in.
- Stow your purchases in the trunk, rather than in the back seat, so thieves won’t be tempted to break in.
- Don't buy more than you can carry. Otherwise you may be an easy target for thieves in the parking lot.
Cyber Monday Tips
- Avoid making online purchases on merchant websites that are unfamiliar to you.
- When making online purchases, use a credit card, rather than a debit card. Merchants and banks will be responsible for fraudulent purchases made using your credit card—but your debit card is directly linked to your checking account. If that information is obtained by a hacker, your account could be cleared out.
- Even if you have a chip card, use all these tips to protect your personal information. After all, the unique code generated by the chips in these cards, which is intended to protect your credit card from being used for fraudulent purposes, is only generated when the card is inserted into the appropriate card reader. At this point, chip cards work exactly the same way as traditional, magnetic stripe credit cards when used for online shopping.
- Use great cyber security practices to protect your identity and your credit card information.
For more than 25 years, Beall Financial and Insurance Services, Inc., has been helping corporations and individuals protect their most important assets. The agency’s client base covers a spectrum of businesses that require specialized insurance packages and knowledge. With offices in California and Indiana, Beall Financial and Insurance Services serves clients nationwide.