Though it’s supposed to be the happiest time of the year, the holidays are a prime time for scams and identity theft. I try to avoid losing money to holiday predators by reviewing my bank statements, debit and credit card statements, and PayPal statements with increasing regularity at this time of year. Instead of waiting for my monthly financial statements to arrive and then reviewing them for accuracy, I review my statements several times a week during the holiday shopping season when I’m spending more money. I’m able to review my statements online as often as I want, free of charge. My bank also lets me set up automatic alerts (that can be sent via email or text message) when my credit card balance goes over a certain amount, when my debit card balance dips below a certain amount or when a charge of a certain dollar amount is made on my account.

Regularly reviewing my financial statements during the holiday shopping season (as well as all other times during the year) helps me catch mistakes or fraudulent activity as soon as possible so I can stop it and cancel my cards before it gets worse—and some companies only give you a 30-day time limit to report fraudulent charges and get a refund. I also check my credit report for any errors or suspicious activity before, during and after the holiday shopping season. For more information on how to do this, check out KCL’s “How to Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report”. It only takes a little bit of extra vigilance to help avoid major financial disaster!

How Can I Avoid Avoid Credit Fraud and Identity Theft?