Summer is over, and Black Friday is on the horizon. Before your holiday shopping gets underway in earnest, now’s a good time to make sure your credit card information and identity are secure. Whether you’re shopping online or in a store, they could be vulnerable if you don’t use the correct safeguards.
Cards with EMV chips are much more secure when used in store than traditional magstripe cards because they encrypt bank information. They’re becoming more mainstream and most larger retail chains have chip-enabled registers.
Shop online on your home network.
It may be tempting to take advantage of a flash sale while you’re on public Wi-Fi on your laptop or smartphone at Starbucks, but an open network makes it easy for crooks to access your usernames and passwords and do some holiday shopping of their own.
Don’t share your information.
If you want to let your children buy a few gifts with your credit card, you’ll retain more control over your information if you add them as authorized users — meaning they’ll get separate cards with their names on them — rather than handing over your own card. You may also be able to set spending limits for the additional cards. If someone you trust wants to get a discount through one of your online memberships, offer to purchase the item yourself and have him or her repay you through a secure channel.
Check your statement often.
Online banking has made it much easier to keep track of your card activity. Keep receipts, digital or paper, and compare them against your online statements regularly. Make sure you recognize each purchase, even the smallest ones.
Update your fraud protection settings.
Chances are your card issuer is already pretty good at fraud detection and will alert you or suspend your card at the hint of any unexpected activity. But you might still want to update your fraud alert settings. Have emails sent automatically to alert you to each purchase. Make sure your address and phone number are correct and let your card issuer know if you’re going to be out of state when doing any shopping.
Buying gifts around the holidays is already stressful enough without worrying about someone stealing your information. When you keep track of your card activity, work with your bank and shop safe, you can keep your identity is safe while still tracking down the perfect gifts.