January 15, 2013
by Lila Quintiliani, AFC®
Military Saves Assistant Coordinator
Communication & Outreach

During the holiday rush and the excitement of the New Year, it can be easy to simply skim over your bills.  But the Better Business Bureau is cautioning that consumers should scrutinize their post-holiday credit card statements carefully for fraudulent charges and other errors.  Online shopping was up an estimated 12% this past holiday season, increasing the risk for release of private information and phishing, but consumers at brick and mortar establishments can also become the victims of credit card fraud.

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself:

Keep documentation. Retain emails and order confirmations from your online shopping and keep receipts for purchases you made in stores.

Check your bills. Check credit card statements carefully.  If you’ve been making lots of transactions at a particular store, you may have to match up the purchases to your receipts to see if there are extra unauthorized charges.

Make sure you’re secure. When you’re shopping online, look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying.  If you are familiar with the company but unsure of its website security, see if they have a phone number that you can call and possibly place the order over the phone.

Don’t take the bait.  If you receive an email that claims to be from a bank or business asking you to enter in sensitive information (known as a “phishing” email), don’t respond.  If you have really done business with the establishment, pick up the phone and call them to confirm there is a problem with your transaction.

Finally, January is a great time to access your free credit report and check to see whether you’ve been the victim of identity theft.  You are entitled to a free report from each of the reporting credit bureaus once per year.  Visit www.annualcreditreport.com for the ONLY authorized source for the free credit report you are entitled to by law. 

Take the Military Saves Pledge today and receive saving tips, strategies for getting out of debt and trusted information on a variety of financial topics.  You’ll also get a FREE myFICO credit score courtesy of the FINRA Foundation.