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Credit Card Scams: How to Protect Yourself During the Holidays

Protect Yourself from Holiday Credit Card Scams

The holidays are the time of the year when people need money for various expenses such as travel, gifts, and hosting festivities. The truth is not everyone has that kind of money saved up and therefore, they have to use credit cards as a temporary loan to fund holiday expenses.

Unfortunately the holidays are also a time when credit card scams are on the rise. Why? Because more people are applying for credit cards and using their credit cards during this time of the year which increases the chance of being a victim of fraud.

According to CBS News, “Americans are expected (to spend) hundreds of billions of dollars over the last months of the year.” Now that’s a lot of chances to become a victim of fraud.

Here are three credit card scams to be on the lookout for this holiday season:

Don’t open emails from your bank.

It is very rare that your financial institution or credit card company will send you an email regarding your accounts and credit cards. They are more likely to contact you via secure message through your online banking or send you snail mail.

Cyber theft is becoming very common and opening emails from unknown senders is the first step towards having your personal information stolen. Immediately delete emails from suspicious senders. Then contact your bank to see if they did send you an email regarding your accounts, have a new product to offer or want to talk to you about a new service. It’s safer to discuss these personal matters over the phone than the internet.

Be careful where you swipe your card.

With technology today, thieves and scammers don’t even need to physically steal your credit card out of your wallet or pocket. All they need to do is install a scanning device on the mobile payment source and they can obtain all your credit card information.

CNBC says, “There are now tens of thousands of viruses targeting mobile devices. They can compromise the device by installing spyware on it that steals user names and passwords, as well as credit card information.”

Buyer beware when it comes to credit card scams during the holiday season. It may be better for your security -- and your budget -- to take out a fixed amount of cash savings for your holiday shopping and leave the credit card at home.

Look out for the little charges.

It’s a good financial habit to check your account activity on a daily basis to make sure that all dollars and cents are accounted for. It’s extremely important to be extra diligent during the holidays which are peak times for credit card fraud and identity theft.

Very often thieves will try to process small transactions -- usually under $5 -- to verify if the card is active and has yet to be reported stolen. If the transaction is approved, bigger transactions are probably on the way. Don’t ignore small transactions on your credit cards because you don’t remember doing them, the chances are you didn’t because they’re fraudulent.

This is why it’s important to keep up to date on all your account activity and report any discrepancies to your bank or credit card company right away.

Keep your personal and financial information safe this holiday season by being extra careful with your credit cards.

Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit committed to empowering and inspiring consumers nationwide to make wise financial decisions and live debt free.

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