How to Keep Your Money Safe When Christmas Shopping
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With Christmas coming up in just a few short days, shoppers will be trying to take care of their last minute Christmas shopping. I usually try to wrap up all my holiday shopping early, which was the plan this year, but there are times when I linger trying to find the ‘perfect something’ for a few people on my list.
Needless to say, I still need to wrap up shopping for my brother and mother-in-law along with the holiday meal. If you are one of those last minute shoppers, stores might not be as crazy as they were on Black Friday but they things might get pretty hectic.
It’s important to focus on getting in, getting out, and keeping your money safe. Here are a few ways to make sure your money stays safe when Christmas shopping.
Avoid Using Cash
Cash is difficult to trace and easy to steal for pickpockets. When you’re shopping, the best choice is to use a debit or credit card.
For one, you can see all the transactions you make online or on your paper statement and you can dispute any charges you didn’t make yourself. If your card is ever stolen, you can always call your card issuer and deactivate the card so no one else can make purchases in your name.
Some credit card companies even provide price protection, extended warranty coverage and purchase protection, which can provide you with limited-time reimbursement in case the item(s) you purchased are damaged, lost or stolen.
If you prefer not to use a credit card while doing your shopping for fear that you’ll be tempted to overspend, load a prepaid debit card with the cash you have and use that instead to better track your purchases.
Many prepaid card issuers offer purchase and fraud protection as well to lower your liability if your card ever gets stolen or misused. Just make sure you choose a prepaid card that doesn’t have a monthly fee or any other unnecessary fees that could eat up your money.
Lock and Secure Everything
If you’re one of those people who tends to leave your car door open when you are home or even if you’re just going to run into the store, now is definitely the time to break that habit. If you’re dropping bags off to your car and running into another store, anyone can walk buy and grab your things if your car door is open.
If you don’t secure your wallet or purse, you can easily drop money, debit cards, etc. for someone else to pick up. I personally put all my shopping bags in my trunk so whoever happens to walk by my car can’t see them and I make sure my alarm is on.
You probably don’t want to be that person with the loud car alarm who everyone stares at, but it could come in handy if someone is actually trying to get into your car and steal your things.
You may be in a rush to get your shopping done, but it’s best to slow down and be aware of your surroundings. You’ll remember more and make fewer mistakes.
I know if you have kids, slowing down while you’re out running errands can be difficult but it’s best to leave them at home when you’re making big purchases if you can. One time I went grocery shopping and was in such a hurry that I got out of the car and turned around to tie my son’s shoes without grabbing my keys and my purse. The door closed behind me and we were locked out of my car.
An hour and $250 later, I realized I needed to slow down and get more organized. Be sure to plan your shopping trip thoroughly, hold onto your receipts and slow down.
Buy From Credible Merchants
Be careful who you purchase from. While it’s a great idea to support small and local businesses, make sure the stores you purchase from are registered with the Better Business Bureau, allow you to pay securely and have a clear return and exchange policy.
If you’re shopping online, make sure the website is secure by looking at the address bar and making sure ‘https:’ is displayed at the beginning of the URL. It if just says: ‘http:’ the personal data you submit may not be safe.
Also shopping online with merchants that offer secure methods of payment like PayPal is another way to protect your money and identity.
It Pays to Shop Safe
While you may be in a hurry this week as you wrap up your last minute Christmas shopping, understand that it pays to take extra necessary steps to ensure that your hard earned money stays safe.
You’ll make fewer mistakes and become more aware of your surroundings when you slow down and get organized. Also, weigh the pros and cons of shopping with a credit card to determine whether it’s right for you. While cash can keep you from overspending, if you aren’t aware, organized and cautious, you could end up losing your cash, purchases or both.
What are some ways you stay safe when shopping at Christmas (or any other time for that matter)? Have you ever had packages stolen off your doorstep around the holidays? What’s your experience using debit cards for Christmas purchases?