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How to Protect Your Credit Card (Or Score) During the Holidays

Credit card fraud is a problem that occurs all year long. However, during the holidays, there is a significant increase in this crime occurring. Falling victim can damage your credit in a flash and your credit score can take a hit in the process. There are certain steps you can take to protect both your credit card and credit score during the holidays.

Always Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Because you will be out shopping frequently around the holiday season, it is absolutely essential to always be aware of your surroundings. When you are walking around the mall or even outside on your way to a store, be alert and keep your eyes open for anyone or anything that might appear suspicious. People can innocently bump into you, but be careful. Pickpockets happen in the most seemingly innocent ways. If you are a woman, hold tightly to your purse and keep it in clear view in front of you at all times. Put your wallet at the bottom of your purse or in a secure pocket within. Men should keep their wallets in an inner coat pocket.

Guard Your Pin Number
If you are making trips to the ATM or are paying for your purchases with your debit card at stores over the holidays, always guard your pin number. People can easily snoop by hovering directly behind you or to the side and can get a quick glimpse when you enter your pin. If you do notice someone standing a little too close to you for your comfort, ask them to step back. You should also quickly glance over the machine to make sure nothing seems unusual, as thieves today install devices that can steal your pin number.

Use Your Smartphone to Pay
One of the best ways to make purchases and keep your credit card safe during the holidays is to instead use your smartphone. For example, Apple Pay on the iPhone is a lot more secure because it doesn’t actually use your credit card number. Instead, it relies on a transaction specific dynamic security code that is unique each time you make purchases. Of course, you should ensure that your smartphone is secure with a passcode intact and your fingerprint scanner active as well.

Avoid Opening New Credit Card Accounts
You may feel pressured over the holidays to open a new credit card account, even if it’s one for a specific store. Don’t do that, because it can actually negative affect your credit score. This is especially the case if you only have one card. Your credit will take a definite dip, which is not worth it during the holidays when you’re so busy shopping for friends and family.

Sign Up for Credit Monitoring
Signing up for a credit monitoring service will help keep your credit safe during the holidays. That way, you will be protected and will be alerted in the event that someone tries to fraudulently open an account in your name. The services offered are also reported to the three major credit reporting bureaus of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.