Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2018 Identity Fraud Study (its most current) revealed that the number of identity fraud victims increased by eight percent (rising to 16.7 million U.S. consumers) in 2017, a record high since the organization began tracking identity fraud in 2003. A similar study through the Federal Trade Commission found that credit card fraud involving the opening of new accounts in the victim’s name far exceeded all other types of reported identity fraud. While fraud can happen at any time, the winter holiday shopping season is the prime time for thieves take advantage, especially with the ongoing shift from shopping at brick-and-mortar stores to online. Keep in mind these ways to protect your credit during the holiday shopping season.
Ditch the Debit Card
Do not use a debit card when shopping for holiday gifts. If a thief gets your debit card information, he or she can do excessive damage because they now have access to the money in your checking account. If you have your savings account linked, the problem is all the worse. The limit on your liability depends on your bank and on how quickly you discover and report the loss. Credit cards, however, offer more protection. Under the Federal Credit Billing Act, you would only be responsible for up to $50 in fraudulent charges on a credit card.
The best practice is to make all holiday purchases on one credit card. This makes it easy to monitor charges. And if this card does get compromised, you only have to deal with one vendor, which makes fixing the problem a lot easier.
Store Credit Cards — Just Say No
Regardless of the season, stores (online and brick-and-mortar) offer enticing one-time purchase discounts if you open a new credit account with them. When you’re making a large purchase, it’s understandably tempting to sign up. Keep in mind, though, that with each new credit inquiry, your credit score suffers. A better option is to use apps like RetailMeNot to search for promo codes that offer discounts.
Monitor Your Credit Card Purchases
Review your credit card transaction history daily—even on the days you are not shopping. Catching an error or sign of fraud as soon as possible is the best way to nip it in the bud.
Connect with Scorewell today to discuss identity-theft monitoring solutions that offer you a first line of defense against cyber crime and fraud.