Written by: Lishamarie Hunter Veteran

It’s already October and the holidays are rapidly approaching, with more people shopping online, there are things we need to be careful about. We want to have a joyous holiday season there are a couple of issues that could gum it up for you and your you family: identity theft, fraud and scams just to name a few.

No age group is exempt from having their identity stolen, keep your SSN secure and never provide this information to people unsolicited. Here’s an example, Mrs. Cake, I’m calling from Blah-Blah credit card company there seems to be a problem with your account. Could you provide your credit card number and last four so that we can verify that you are the actual card holder? NO!

You can ask them to give you the card number and SSN in question and then you will tell them if it’s accurate or not. Another security tip is to use a credit card specifically for online purchases. You can transfer exactly the amount needed for the purchases made on your shopping experience.

When making online purchases ensure that the website in a secure site. You can even put everything in your shopping cart and then call the customer service center and purchase those items over the phone if you’re not comfortable making an online purchase.

There are many other ways to protect your identity. You want to regularly review your credit card and bank statements. Look for unknown or strange transactions: $300 for pizza or $1.50 for a magazine in Cuba. Call companies, as soon as you identify a problem. Check your mailbox as soon as your mail is delivered, better yet a post box in a secure location will eliminate the stress and worry throughout the day about having your mail just sitting there.

Maybe you rather go to the mall to shop. When going to the mall ensure you are aware of others around you. If you’re purchasing something with your credit card make sure nobody is watching while you input your PIN.

Check to ensure that the clerk has given you back YOUR credit card, and always ask for a receipt. Make sure when using a credit card the people around aren’t using their cellphone camera to capture your card number. If you are robbed during your shopping trip report it immediately to the police, credit card companies, and your bank.

With a little diligence you will have a stress free holiday shopping experience. Stay aware and alert. Be safe. Enjoy yourself and your family, sometimes that’s the best present you can give and it doesn’t cost a thing.