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Watch your wallet during the shopping season

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Unfortunately, thieves and fraudsters are as much a part of the holidays as brightly colored packages, sweet treats and warm family gatherings. That means shoppers need to keep a sharp eye out for those less interested in hunting up the perfect gift and more intent on stalking wallets and purses.

With a constant flow of new technologies designed to steal consumer information, particularly during the holidays, shoppers should put some common sense precautions in place, said Cindy Clampet, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension resource management specialist.

“Memorizing the PIN to your debit card, shielding others from watching as you input your PIN and making a habit of putting away your debit or credit card immediately after every transaction are a few simple ways you can protect your personal information,” Clampet said. “If you’re shopping with cash, get a receipt for each purchase and try not to openly flash bills while you’re in public.”

Meanwhile, online shoppers should make sure they are on a secure site. The web addresses for secure sites usually begin with https and sites with secure portals usually advertise that feature.

Sticking exclusively to better-known online retailers also can boost consumers’ chances of a safe and authentic shopping experience. Websites such as allow users to verify online retailers, even if they have changed names, and search for the best prices for products across multiple online outlets.

“Other easy safeguards include checking your wallet each evening for your debit and credit cards and regularly reviewing bank statements online to confirm you made all the listed purchases. Immediately report a lost or stolen card and dispute any charges you believe aren’t yours,” Clampet said. “You also can change or scramble the passwords to important accounts to make them more difficult to decipher.”

Finally, after the holidays, consumers should check their credit report. Everyone is entitled to one free report every year from each of the three major credit agencies. Visit to request a report and download it.

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