I hope everyone survived Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. This is a hectic time of year, what with gift buying and parties galore. It's also the time of year when you need to take extra care with your wallets, credit cards and gift cards. The con men out there are just waiting for us to be a little careless. Many people worry about online buying and having their credit card info stolen, but think nothing about handing that same credit card to waiter or waitress at a local eatery. The one time I had unauthorized charges on one of my credit cards, I was able to trace the problem back to a local electronics store. And yes, the credit card company reversed the disputed charges.
Today, I keep one card exclusively for internet shopping and a different one for local use. And yes, I review each and every charge on each and every statement. Do you? Some people prefer to use debit cards instead of credit cards. Bad idea, if you stop and think about it. If your debit card info falls into the wrong hands, your bank account can be cleaned out, down to the last penny. I have yet to hear of fraudulent debit card charges being reversed. A debit card is just like cash. Someone else used it? So sorry. No can fix. Credit card companies, on the other hand, generally will work with you and generally reverse the charges.
Gift cards from the iTunes Store seem to be subject to theft. Some iTunes accounts were hacked over the last week, and from what I've read, they all were sporting gift card balances. To Apple's credit, all gift card balances were restored, but like credit card statements, you should be reviewing those emails from Apple that list your purchases. Didn't buy it? Notify Apple immediately. Better yet, don't credit that iTunes gift card to your account until you are ready to spend all of it. Add things to your wish list until they add up to the amount of your gift card, then buy them all at one time. How do I know about this one? Yep, my daughter was hacked, and her $25 gift card went for a bunch of racing apps over the weekend.
As to local holiday shopping, I'd like to pass on a couple of things I learned as the wife of a law enforcement officer.
1. If you are shopping at the mall or local shopping center and you decide to take packages to your car before you finish your shopping, don't just put the items in the car and go back to your shopping. Put them in the trunk (or under a jacket or blanket or anything that will disguise them, then move the car to a different location. This time of year, thieves cruise parking lots looking for people carrying packages to their cars. As soon as you stow those packages and go back to shopping, they will break into your car. The minute you get into that car and pull out of that space, they're going to start looking for someone else. Oh, and have your keys in your hand, ready to open that door lock as soon as you reach your car. Fumbling around trying to find your keys will make you an easy target for a mugger.
2. This one is for the ladies and applies all year. Never, never put your purse or shoulder bag in that convenient little spot in your shopping cart that is designed for toddlers. It only takes a moment for someone to grab it and run as you look at merchandise. I see this almost every time I go shopping, and it absolutely drives me crazy.
I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday shopping season.