BOSTON (CBS) – This is a frenzied time of year; the pressure to create the perfect holiday wears us down. Physically and emotionally. But worse, because we are tired and so busy, we let our guard down when it comes to protecting ourselves, our property, and our numbers.
It’s a sad world we live in when we need to be reminded to be careful in mall parking lots. When our arms are loaded with packages we are an easy target. There really are bogeymen lurking in the dark parking lots and behind doors. Do take the time to insure your safety.
That said, you need to protect yourself in other ways as well. You need to protect your numbers. Credit card numbers, ATM numbers, Social Security numbers, pin numbers. Many of us have been shopping online. If you are unsure about a site use PayPal instead of your credit card to purchase the merchandise.
Be diligent about getting your receipt from the merchant when you charge an item. When you send a check to the credit card company only put the last four digits of your card number on the check.
Some card holders are losing their points to credit card fraud. The thief goes after the points; doesn’t try to charge anything just uses the points. Usually they request a gift card. So check your points with each statement.
Beware of someone calling you about your account. You could get a call telling you that your account has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern. The caller may ask if you purchased a computer at a store in Nebraska. Your answer, of course, is “no”.
They then offer to issue you a new credit card, asking you to verify that you have the card in question in your possession. They ask you to read off the last three numbers that appear on the back of your card. You do so.
The caller gives you a control number. He’s never asked you for your credit card number so you never think credit card theft. That’s what just happened! Those three numbers are your card verification value and the thief now has them. He got the rest of your number from some other source and he now has the ability to convince online and phone merchants he is you.
When will you find out that you have been snookered? When you get your credit card bill and there are lots of items you never ordered.
Don’t give out any numbers when someone calls you. Tell them you’d like to verify their request. Call the 800 number on the back of your card to see if the call is legit! Don’t use a telephone number they give you! Protect your numbers!
So during this hectic time of year do take the time to get online and check your credit card statement. I check mine weekly.
You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.
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