The holiday season continues to be among the busiest times of the year for malls and stores, and many holiday shoppers choose to pay for gifts, clothing and other items with a credit card. As much as I enjoy shopping for holiday gifts online, I still make a few trips to the mall to purchase party clothes and personalized gifts, and to shop the holiday sales.
No matter how safe and secure the credit card machine and point-of-sale computers at your favorite mall store appear to be, there is still a risk that your credit card number and personal information can be stolen. Many retailer and merchants have taken steps to combat credit card and identity theft by training staff to identify fraudulent credit cards, monitor transactions closely and make sure they follow several steps to process each transaction.
Use these holiday shopping tips to prevent fraud at the mall:
1. Avoid using a public ATM machine. Entering your PIN number in a public ATM machine can make it easy for criminals to identify your personal PIN and make an attempt to steal your wallet and cards. Withdraw cash from your local bank or a bank ATM whenever possible to lower the risk of having your debit card stolen or debit account compromised.
2. Report any suspicious behavior immediately. If you see other shoppers behaving suspiciously, such as going behind the register counter when there is no cashier around, make sure you report the event to a store manager or staff member immediately. The individual could be stealing sensitive information and committing fraud.
3. Watch where your receipts go. Merchants that use paper receipts need to give you the unsigned copy and store the signed copy in a secure drawer. Make sure the cashier puts your signed copy in a secure place before you leave so that the receipt and any numbers printed on it aren’t picked up by someone else.
4. Pay for items with cash. Avoid using credit or debit cards altogether this holiday season and pay for everything with cash. Every credit card or debit card transaction completed on the computer or terminal has its own set of risks, so you can lower your risk of having your personal information stolen by shopping on a cash-only basis.
5. Carry cards in a wallet or purse. Don’t make it easy for a thief to grab a credit card from your pocket, or put yourself at risk for losing credit cards when pulling them out of a pocket or handbag. Store your cards safely in a wallet or purse, and take them out carefully only when it’s time to pay for your purchase.
Since rates of identity theft and credit card fraud are on the rise, it’s important to shop smart when heading to the mall. Use some of these tips to prevent fraud when shopping at the mall this holiday season.
“Mastercard Takes Fraud Prevention to the Mall,” AllBusiness.com.
“Prevent Fraud in Your Business,” Bloomberg Businessweek.