You're probably familiar grumpy Grinch in the Dr. Seuss classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, but did you know that there are real-life grinches who prey on holiday shoppers?
The holiday season is a prime time for thieves and scammers. Consumers need to take extra care to protect their identity and avoid having their credit cards and holiday purchases ripped off.
As you prepare for festivities, consider these tips to prevent scams and theft from FindLaw.com, the nation's leading source of free online legal information:
- Keep a list of important information. Create a list of your credit cards, including important information such as the credit card number, expiration date, name on the card, and the customer service hotline. Print out the list and keep it in a secure place at home so you or a family member can access it quickly if a card is lost or stolen.
- Safeguard your identity. Only shop at reputable online retailers at this time of year. If a deal appears to be too good to be true, it probably is. When shopping retail, don't let your credit card or identification such as a driver's license out of your sight. Carefully track your credit card purchases. If you notice purchases on your account that you don't recall making, alert your credit card company immediately.
- Avoid being a target. Don't leave holiday purchases in your car's front seat or in easy view of thieves at the shopping mall. It's better to store them in the trunk or in a less-conspicuous location in your vehicle. At home, don't leave holiday purchases -- or your wallet or purse -- near the front door for easy picking by a thief.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Holiday shopping often means going out when it's dark. Try to park in a well-lit location and invite a friend to shop with you. When you head to your car, have your keys ready. If you feel uncomfortable, ask a store employee or security personnel to accompany you.
- Bag it. Don't throw boxes of newly opened items out on the street, next to the garbage. This could be an advertisement that there's a lot of brand-new, expensive merchandise in your home. Instead, cut up boxes, especially for high-ticket items, and bag them up in the garbage or toss them into your recycling bin.
For more tips on how to have a safe and stress-free holiday shopping season, visit FindLaw.com.
-- Michelle Croteau, Director of Marketing Communications
with Robyn Hagan Cain, FindLaw Audience Team