Christmas is less than two weeks away, and the stores and malls will be filled with last-minute shoppers. About 44 percent of people will do their holiday shopping in December or later, according to one annual survey. While all the spending is good for retailers, it can also be irresistible to thieves. But there are ways to discourage crooks from targeting you whether you shop at a local store or online.
With 40 percent of households expected to do their holiday shopping on a computer, consider these tips to fight cyber criminals:
· Only shop on secure websites.
There are two ways to tell if a website is secure. First, check the web page URL. On a secure connection, the web address should start with “https.” The “s” at the end stands for secure. Second, check for the “Lock” icon. Depending on which web browser you use, the “Lock” could be in lower right or lower left corner.
· Designate one credit card for online shopping only.
By only using one card for your online purchases, you can easily monitor that particular card if there is any suspicious activity.
If you are a victim of identity theft, it can be expensive to reestablish your credit and identity. Identity theft insurance can cost between $25 and $60 per year. It does not cover direct monetary losses incurred as result of identity theft. Instead, identity theft insurance provides coverage for the cost of reclaiming your financial identity, such as the costs of making phone calls, making copies, mailing documents, taking time off from work without pay and hiring an attorney.
Your current homeowner’s policy may include identity theft insurance. If not, you may be able to add identity theft insurance to your current policy or purchase a stand-alone policy.
If you prefer to shop at local stores for your holiday gifts, use these common sense tips to protect yourself:
· Don’t tempt a crook. Don’t flash cash or credit cards when making a purchase.
Take time to put your money away properly after you checkout.
· Limit the number of packages and bags you carry.
Struggling to carry several shopping bags makes it easy for a crook to steal your wallet or take one of your packages.
· Protect your identity
Take only the credit cards you plan to use, and guard them carefully. Crooks can memorize credit card numbers over someone’s shoulder. Also, make sure the cashier hands you back your card. Mistakes can be made in the hustle and bustle of shopping. And finally, safeguard your receipts. Thieves often look for discarded papers to steal credit card information.
If you are the victim of a crime, report it to the police immediately and ask for a police report. This will help you decide if you want to file an insurance claim. Theft of personal possessions is generally covered by homeowners and renters insurance policies. There is also limited coverage for stolen credit cards – usually up to $500. For any other insurance information contact the Oklahoma Insurance Department at 1-800-522-0071 or visit our website at www.oid.ok.gov.
The Oklahoma Insurance Department, an agency of the State of Oklahoma, is responsible for the education and protection of the insurance-buying public and for oversight of the insurance industry in the state.