As if the holidays aren't stressful enough with gift-buying and packed schedules, the end of the year often brings travel with it to see loved ones and spend the holidays together. Whether you're meeting at the family estate, or escaping together to ski slopes or sunny beaches, the most loathed side effect of the holidays is the enhanced potential for identity theft. Looking to avoid a side of fraudulent charges along with your Christmas ham? Make sure you're keeping things in trim with these best practices.
Shopping online and in-app
A recent survey conducted by Experian found that, among those surveyed, just over half (56 percent) said that holiday shopping puts a strain on their finances. Further, almost the same amount (55 percent) said that they're stressed about their finances this holiday season. Remember that when you're shopping online, you can help ensure your information stays safe by using it only with well-known established retailers, by entering the web address yourself (instead of clicking through served ads or suspicious links in emails), and not allowing sites to store your payment information for future purchases.
If you're perusing app stores considering downloading a few shopping apps, beware of fraudsters' newest frontier: the fake shopping app. A rash of counterfeit shopping apps from overseas have flooded online app marketplaces, despite regular screening processes in place. Before you dowload - let alone enter any kind of personal or payments information - make sure you confirm the app is created and offered by the shopping group you're wanting to shop with. Errors like misspellings, frequent app closures or crashes or non-functioning options may be red flags of an off-brand app. Consider reviews and history of previous versions carefully before you click.
The frenzy of holiday travel
In addition to being a purchase-heavy time for many, the hubbub of holiday travel brings to mind frantic dashes through the airport and more.
Before you even set out on your trip, think carefully about what's really needed for travel. Lighten your wallet and leave unneeded credit cards (and a list of all items in your wallet for travel) at home in a secured location, bringing only the essentials with you for payment and identification on the road. When travel isn't going smoothly, it's even easier for you to lose track of your wallet and become an agitated target for opportunistic scammers to capture your misplaced info. Though not the easiest thing when winter weather causes delays, try to keep your cool when situations heat up and keep eyes on the important info you brought along for the journey.
Your mental state
Maybe the most important way to prep for the holidays is to prepare your mental state. With the madness that can find you in the season, something will go wrong. But when you've taken a bit of time upfront to keep your information secure and limit the damage that a wrong turn can make, it doesn't have to ruin the most magical time of the year for you and everyone else.
Make sure you're being smart with your information so your holidays can stay merry and bright.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.