By Laurel Nelson-Rowe | American Express Credit Intel Freelance Contributor
5 Min Read | December 20, 2019 in Cards
When you’re in the midst of a gift-shopping marathon, who has the time (or energy) for chores like comparing receipts to your online statement each night, or checking on all those automated email alerts you (should have) signed up for? And, of course, that’s exactly why you should. Fraudsters count on people being too busy during the holidays to keep their guards up, too. It’s one of the two main reasons scammers are more active during this time of year—and why holiday credit card security is a real problem.
The other main reason to take holiday credit card security seriously is the year-end spending “bulge.” Roughly a quarter to a third of annual retail sales, depending on the year, gets squeezed into the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In 2019, the National Retail Federation projected that overall holiday retail spending could hit $730 billion, with online spending accounting for up to $167 billion of that.1 Fraudsters and scammers want a piece of that action.
It’s useful to think about keeping your credit card safe during the holiday season like training for a marathon—both require organization, discipline and focus. Here are some ideas for how you can do it:
Many of the following suggestions for protecting your card make sense all year round, but can be especially helpful in boosting credit card security for the holidays:
While taking in holiday sights, sounds, and smells, experts advise that you keep security on your list—whether strolling down a decorated street or in a store or restaurant. Wallets and purses with credit cards, or shopping bags full of gifts and retail receipts, can disappear quickly amid a bustling crowd. For holiday credit card security, experts suggest:
Doing holiday shopping online? Here’s how experts suggest you keep secure:
Again, this is something experts say you should do year-round, but especially—and more often—over the holidays. Unless you’ve frozen your credit, checking your credit report to look for inquiries you never authorized is likely to be the quickest way to find out if criminals have gotten hold of your personally identifiable information and are trying to open fraudulent accounts in your name. The experts say a credit freeze is the best way to protect your identity from thieves. To learn more, read, “Should I Freeze My Credit? Survey Says …”
Keep your Elfin-eared antennae up: Holiday hoaxes can get very creative. Use security experts’ advice so you don’t get snowed over with holiday credit card fraud or theft this season. It requires an ever-attentive focus on good credit card safety practices.
1 “NRF forecasts holiday sales will grow between 3.8 and 4.2 percent,” National Retail Federation
2 “16 Experts Reveal How to Protect Your Credit Card Online in 2017,” SecureThoughts.com
3 “7 easy ways to protect your credit while holiday shopping,” CreditCards.com
4 “Credit Card Security: 9 Do’s and Don’ts for Avoiding Identity Theft,” Credit Card Insider
5 “8 Credit Card Security Tips You Should Not Miss,” Lifehack.org
6 “16 Experts Reveal How to Protect Your Credit Card Online in 2017,” SecureThoughts.com