Protect your credit this holiday season

Protect Your Credit While Spreading Holiday Cheer!

While we certainly use our credit and debit cards all year long, there’s always more of a danger of having information being stolen over the holidays. Holiday cheer and goodwill can cause many consumers to relax a little too much when shopping online and in stores. Don’t fall victim to the stress and potential financial issues that a stolen identity or stolen financial information can cause.

Be Vigilant

Check your credit and debit card statements regularly. The quicker you can alert your bank to potential fraud, the quicker you can have that money back in your account and protect yourself from further exposure.

When possible, Use Cash

When you use cash at stores, you limit the opportunities that criminals have to steal your information. Unfortunately, using cash means you may miss out on reward points or bonuses that many credit cards offer this time of year, so be sure to weigh the pros and cons of this for you and your family.

Choose Credit Instead of Debit

When given the option, put your purchases on a credit card instead of using your debit card. Not only do you prevent criminals from potentially gaining access to your PIN, but you can also increase the protection offered from your bank or lender. Credit cards typically offer more fraud protection and warranty programs for your purchases than debit cards do. Also, if someone gains access to your credit card, they aren’t going to be stealing cash in your bank account as they would if they accessed your debit account.

Only Shop Online With Security

Before you enter your credit card information online, make sure you see “https://” at the beginning of the website address. The “s” indicates that you are using a more secure web page, and can trust that your personal information is encrypted. This is a good place to start when considering how safe a website is.
Prefer to shop on your mobile device? Only enter your credit or debit card information if you are using a secured Wi-Fi network. Be wary of public networks that allow anyone to log on without needing a password. Using them to send sensitive (and private) data can make you more vulnerable to information theft.

Use a Shredder

Shred any and everything you wouldn’t want a stranger to get a hold of or that could be used to steal your identity or money. This includes credit card offers you get in the mail, receipts with your credit/debit information on them, billing statements, home mortgage statements, or any other sensitive documents you no longer need.

Are you planning to buy a home?

Protecting your credit and identity is always important, but if 2015 is going to be the year you buy a home, pay special attention this holiday season. Having your information stolen can ruin your credit score, an important factor in determiningthe mortgage rate you will qualify for, as well as the size of your home loan. For more information about the implications of large purchases on your credit score and how you can safeguard your credit in preparation for buying a home, contact a Personal Loan Consultant for a no-obligation consultation.