We have tough times and a tight budget, so when it’s Christmas shopping time, everyone is looking for a bargain. We have tough times and a tight budget, so when it’s Christmas shopping time, everyone is looking for a bargain. However, if looking for as much savings as possible jeopardizes your security, whether in the real world or in the virtual world, then you may have lost your priorities somewhere. Both getting up at three in the morning to get your hands on something on the big Black Friday sale and looking for a site that offers a 90% off CD set sounds like you want to donate your hard earned money to someone.
But if your personal security is compromised or sensitive information falls into the wrong hands, you will end up paying much more than you could save. Here are some ways to protect yourself from it.
1. Don’t go shopping alone in the middle of the night
You are convinced that you will find many great deals in the store during the pre-holiday sales. However, don’t make the mistake of going to the store all by yourself for the price craze. The road to and from the store is dangerous because criminals also remember about such sales. If you can’t find anyone willing to accompany you, think again about the idea. Nothing is more important than your physical security.
2. Take only the payment cards you intend to use
Decide which cards to use for specific purchases and only take those cards. After all, you do not want to find yourself in a situation where you would have to contact several banks and inform about the theft of payment and credit cards, especially at a time when you need them.
3. Never take your checkbook
If you use check payments, don’t take the entire booklet with you. This is one of the easiest ways criminals can steal your identity. Instead, take one check – or many if you go to several stores – and write the name of the payee before you leave the house. Fill in the amount of the check in the store and sign it only during the transaction.
4. Beware of lesser-known sites
Just because you’ve found a flat screen TV for 50% of the price doesn’t mean you have to buy it right away. There are tons of scam sites on the web whose only purpose is to gather your credit card information through an enticing promotion. Once the scammers receive them, your merchandise will never reach you and you will be charged fake charges. Do your own research and stay away from all the online retailers that many customers have complained about.
5. Have your phone always with you
Always take your mobile phone with you when going shopping. It can prove invaluable if your car breaks down, and talking on the phone can effectively deter potential criminals. You can also let a loved one know that you are returning. Make sure your phone is password protected and activate anti-theft features in case you lose it or fall into the wrong hands.
6. Avoid buying from public Wi-Fi networks
When you shop online while sipping espresso in a coffee shop, you appreciate the convenience of this situation. What about security? After all, you can become an easy target for criminals that way. Apart from the fact that public Wi-Fi networks are always less secure than private ones, you never know if it’s a ghost network created by cybercriminals that will put you at risk of identity theft.
7. Practice good car practices
In all stores, park in well-lit areas and keep your purchases in the trunk. Check the back seat before you get in the car after shopping, and if you notice anything disturbing, call the police immediately. You can never be completely sure.
In the midst of all the Christmas shopping madness, it’s important to keep your distance. If you have a bad feeling about shopping online because something is too good to be true, it most likely is. The same goes for night shopping in a dimly lit space. We all want to save during this time, but it’s good to make sure we don’t risk too much in return.
And you – what methods do you know for safe Christmas shopping?