That Have Nothing to do with Budgeting
Black Friday is behind us, and the shopping frenzy has started. By now (hopefully) you have a spending plan for your gift giving this season. Whether you are braving the malls or online retail shopping carts, I have several financial tips to keep your financial identity safe this season.
Streamline Your Wallet & Purse
Shopping among crowds of people unfortunately brings the danger of pick pocketing and bag snatching. Before heading out, take inventory of what you have in your wallet or purse. Choose the 2 or 3 cards you’ll use this holiday season and leave the rest at home (in a safe place, of course). Make a photocopy of the cards you do carry so in case something happens you can quickly call your financial institutions to safeguard your accounts. I also recommend downsizing your purse to one that has a long strap that you can drape over your shoulder like a messenger bag. It’s better for your back and easier to get to your wallet. Gentlemen… put your wallet in a front pocket to deter would-be thieves.
Lock Up Important Papers & Valuables
Sadly identity theft is often perpetrated by someone you know. Before you have that holiday party or open house, be sure to lock up important papers (e.g., credit card bills) and valuables like jewelry. If these items are out of sight, there’s less temptation. Plus, what better time to get organized as New Year’s is just around the corner.
Look for Secure, Encrypted Shopping
Mainstream retailers like Amazon and Best Buy are trusted online shopping sites. If you do shop with an online retailer you haven’t used before, look for “https” in the URL, a lock or other indications they are using security protocols for an online shopping cart. If you’re not familiar with these terms, PCMag.com explains them in their 11 Tips for Safe Online Shopping article.
Check Your Online Balances & Statements
Let’s face it… mistakes get made. And with the millions of transactions that will be processed between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, there’s a chance an error can occur on your account. I routinely help my clients reconcile their receipts to their bank statements or online balances. Keep all your receipts and double-check them against what the bank has debited or credited to your account. If you aren’t already using online banking to monitor your spending and account activity, now may be the perfect time.
Invest in Antivirus & Anti-spyware
If you’re a big online shopper, then this is a must. Protect your computer and your financial identity by investing in a robust antivirus and anti-spyware program. Hey, you may even find a great deal on it. Many program licenses are good for up to 3 computers, so you can be safe regardless of what computer you use.
Wishing you and yours a safe, holiday season.