Just like when Buddy the Elf proclaimed that the Santa at Gimbel’s department store was a charlatan who smelled like beef and cheese, a growing number of American consumers have become quite suspicious of who is seeing their credit.
Every year news outlets sound the alarm that credit card meanies aka “cotton-headed ninny muggins” are on the prowl during the holiday shopping season, however every year despite increasing vigilance, thousands of holiday spenders still fall victim.
Forbes reported that software security provider, Symantec found that, “one in 1,135 e-mails sent in October was a phishing e-mail and one in 437 e-mails contained a virus. Through the end of that month, 248,282,045 identities had been exposed to potential data breaches in 2013.”
With IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark reporting that Cyber Monday sales were up 20.6% this year, consumers must be more aware of the latest scam than ever to protect their identity.
Adam Levin, founder of Identity Theft 911 and co-founder of credit.com spoke with Forbes and said that happy holiday shoppers are often distracted shoppers. “What identity thieves prey upon is vulnerability and distraction,” he says. “There is no question if there is a time for you to be distracted, it’s the holidays.”
What You Can Do to Protect Your Credit History
Don’t let angry elves throw a wet blanket on your end-of-the-year reveling says credit card experts from Pentagon Federal Credit Union ($17 billion, Alexandria, VA).
"The holidays are a great time of year; and not only do we want folks to be safe while traveling, but it's also important that they think about their financial safety, as well," said Steve Troxel, vice president of marketing, PenFed.
Troxel makes five important suggestions that should help you (and your credit) stay a little safer this holiday shopping season:
- When making a purchase with a check and/or credit card, make sure you get back the card and the receipt. Check the receipt for accuracy.
- Only travel with the check and/or credit cards you plan on using.
- When making an order over the telephone, try to avoid using a cordless phone. Messages on some cordless phones can easily be intercepted by devices as unsophisticated as baby monitors and police scanners.
- Review your check and/or credit card statement as soon as possible. Match charges with your receipts to ensure all charges are yours, and are for the correct amount.
- Check your credit report on a regular basis to ensure the information is correct. If you have children under the age of 18, consider periodically getting a copy of their credit report(s) as well. This is one of the newest tactics fraudsters use to compromise the identity of children, as the fraudulent activity can take years, even decades, to be noticed. And finally, consider purchasing a credit monitoring product that regularly scans your credit reporting and notifies you of changes.
Remember, your credit union is here to help! And by the way, don’t eat the yellow snow.