How-To – Protect Yourself on Black Friday

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Beware of scrooges as you head out to do your holiday shopping in the coming weeks. They want to steal more than your good cheer. They want to steal your money, credit card information, and even your identity. As the lines at the mall pile up with people looking to cash in on deals, there will undoubtedly be some people out there looking to cash in on your naivety.With the increase in people, merchandise, and blindingly good deals you may become distracted and let your guard down. Don’t. Be aware. I recently read an article titled “Low Prices, High Identity Theft on Black Friday” that listed some steps you can take to protect yourself.When headed to the storefront:* Take only what you’ll need – Avoid carrying all of your credit cards or personal identification. Never carry your social security card.
* Watch for shoulder surfers- Thieves are sneaky and quick. It only takes a second for them to copy down your credit card information, and some even take pictures with their cell phones.
* Write “Check Photo ID” on your credit card – In case your card is stolen, this can prevent thieves from using your card in stores.And don’t think you are completely safe if you plan to shop online. Also in the article on identity theft they stated that “This year, the National Retail Federation estimates that nearly half of consumers will shop online with more than 61 million shopping while at work. This leads to the potential that your personal information could be spread to more than one computer.”Some tips to help you protect yourself from cyber predators include:* Make highly secure passwords – Make sure passwords use letters, numbers, and other characters.
* Never email personal information – This should be self explanatory…email is not guaranteed to be secure.
* Beware of unsolicited emails – If you get unsolicited emails from an online merchant, don’t click on any links; use search engines or go directly to the site.So the moral of this post is not to discourage anyone from shopping. In fact with the current state of our economy I don’t think anyone would encourage you to not spend money. But just be aware. Being educated about the ways in which identity theft occurs is the first step to making sure you are not a victim. Also if you are a merchant it helps to stay up to date on the latest scams and tactics so you can protect your customers as well as your business.

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