We all hear the comments to be safe, we all know that we should never give out our passwords, we’ve seen so many companies being hacked, who should we trust and where can we shop online?

Here are some basics (without going into statistics). People think Credit Card Theft is up during the shopping season before Christmas, but most don’t realize that is just a foundation and prelude to the real “shopping”. They play on your generosity and thus they gain access to more of your personal information. That is the hardest part. The theft of Personal information can make you feel violated.

So here are some tips to keep yourself and your wallet safer.

1. Always make sure the HTTP has an ‘s’ in it so it looks like HTTPS:// – That indicates its a Secured Website.

2. Don’t click on links sent in emails from Companies. There are really good forgers who make the link and the sites look real, when really all they want are your log in credentials.

3. Never give your information over the phone to someone who calls you. Remember the number they give you to call them back on is still going to the scammers, look up numbers online or in a phone book, call the main desk and ask to be transferred to the person.

4. When using a credit card to pay, make sure your card is signed on the back. The following is taken directly from the Public Merchant Acceptance Policy for Visa: “The words “Not Valid Without Signature” appear above, below, or beside the signature panel on all Visa cards.” ““See ID”Some customers write “See ID” or “Ask for ID” in the signature panel, thinking that this is a deterrentagainst fraud or forgery; that is, if their signature is not on the card, a fraudster will not be able to forge it.In reality, criminals often don’t take the time to practice signatures. They use cards as quickly as possibleafter a theft and prior to the accounts being blocked. They are actually counting on you not to look at theback of the card and compare signatures; they may even have access to counterfeit identification with asignature in their own handwriting”

5. Don’t be fooled, If the deal sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

6. Telemarketers will have tons of great causes. Look up the Charities you want to support and donate to them directly. Don’t give your credit card information out to a charity over the phone. If it is one you want to donate to, then you can call them back on the Listed phone numbers and offer your information to them.

7. Remember, just because Christmas is over, doesn’t mean the scammers have gone back to their little holes. Keep and eye out for mail that isn’t yours in your box, or information for your tax returns.

These ‘shoppers’ are busy year round, they start the year going after peoples Tax Returns, sometimes triggering an Audit for you. Then they move to Vacations – they love to go on vacation, with your credit cards (they can easily get this information through your wallet with RFID (Radio Frequency Identifier) ) They do this without your knowledge, they can be walking by you with a device that looks like a phone to their ear and really be stealing your credit card information. This can be done anywhere, you don’t need to be online or even have your card out.

There are wallets and credit card sleeves that shield your information, but the best way to be safe is is be aware, watch your statements, go online and verify your balances. Check with the Credit Reporting Bureaus to make sure your information hasn’t been used to get cards you don’t know about.

Please contact me if you want more information. The better you protect your finances, the better you’ll be financially fit to buy a home – even if your selling yours and moving, it’ll be easier if you have any issues dealt with or at least in progress.