Safety in Last-Minute Shopping

| December 24, 2013
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With the countdown to Christmas in full swing, time is running out to find the perfect gift for everyone on the “nice” list this year, but experts say it’s critical to protect yourself and your purchases in the midst of the last-minute rush.

According to Michelle Corey, president and CEO of the St. Louis Better Business Bureau, the recent data breach that affected an estimated 40 million Target customers should serve as a wake-up call for shoppers everywhere.

“If you’re using your credit card or your debit card on a regular basis during the holiday shopping season, go online to your bank and check your checking account statements or your credit card statements to see if there are unauthorized charges,” she suggested.

Corey also recommended that at least once per quarter consumers check their credit reports with one of the three credit-reporting agencies to see if any unauthorized accounts have been opened.

Corey said many people look at gift cards as an easy option in these final shopping days, but she offered caution there too, as some gift cards come with transaction fees, processing fees, inactivity fees, or other issues.

“Millions of gift cards every year, they go unused because people either lose them, they’re stolen, they forget about them or they just don’t want to do business at the stores,” she said.

Corey also advised shoppers to make sure the security seal is intact before purchasing any gift card and to verify whether the card can be used online or only at brick-and-mortar locations.

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