Thanksgiving is close upon us, and that means it’s almost time for turkey, football and family gatherings. Of course, it also means Black Friday isn’t far behind, with its amazing Black Friday deals, just waiting to be snapped up. Come Thursday night, once the last slice of pumpkin pie is eaten and all the dishes have been cleared away, millions of normally calm men and women will be setting their alarms to wake up bright and early so they can join the frenzied antics that have become as much a part of the holiday weekend as college football games.
If you count yourself among those hardy shoppers intent on scoring the best of this year’s Black Friday deals, we have a few tips that can help you stay safe, whether you choose to head to the local shopping mall or score your deals online – or both.
- You may have multiple credit cards, but to keep shopping simpler and safer, try to restrict your spending to one card. Using just one card makes it easier to track activity on your card once you get home so you can reduce the risks of credit card fraud.
- Shield your card information from view when using it to check out in stores, and don’t leave your credit card in your car; shopping mall parking lots are favorite targets for thieves, especially on busy shopping days like Black Friday.
- Be careful when using ATMs – some thieves place small devices on ATMs that scan card information. Once the device has been in place for a while, the thieves return, grab the device and download ATM card information. Before inserting your card, check the device opening to make sure it doesn’t look unusual.
- When shopping online, see if your credit card issuer offers temporary or “virtual” card numbers that can be used for a specific amount of money or for a single purchase. Virtual card numbers let you use your credit card without exposing your card information to potential identity thieves online.
- Be careful when clicking on special offer or coupon codes, especially ones that arrive in your email box from an unknown sender. Some “clickable” codes download spyware that can steal your credit card information. Instead, stick to reputable coupon sites like Ebates.com, CouponCabin.com and RetailMeNot.com, or see if your credit card offers coupon codes.
- Use gift cards. You can avoid identity theft entirely (and avoid the hassle of toting a lot of cash to the shopping mall) by buying gift cards ahead of time and using them to purchase Black Friday deals. Gift cards also help you curb your spending so you don’t wind up with nasty surprises when the January credit card bills start rolling in.
Holiday shopping can be fun and exciting, and by taking these few extra precautions to protect your identity, it can be safe, too.