Don’t be #Scrooge’s next #victim

So, we’ve got just 10 days until Christmas and you haven’t finished your shopping.

What to do?

Well, it’s 2017 and our best advice is to shop safely.

With every new advance in technology comes an opportunity to break the law, or so it seems.

More and more, folks are shopping online, ordering gifts via the Internet and waiting for their arrival.

The Porch Pirates are waiting, too.

More and more we hear about folks having packages stolen from their porches. Opportunistic thieves drive through neighborhoods waiting to see what boxes are available for them to pinch.

It’s a new crime, and while there aren’t a lot of statistics available yet, a report from released finds that an estimated 23 million Americans have had packages stolen from their homes.

Also of worry is credit card fraud, which is still a relatively new crime.

Databases are breached, magnetic strip information is skimmed and the holidays are ruined.

Despite efforts to guard against credit card crimes, tracking by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) and CyberScout shows that there were 791 data breaches reported in the U.S. by the end of June 2017. This is a 29 percent increase over the same period in 2016.

Chip technology has been added to credit and debit cards more recently and while it helps, there are no givens.

Of course, you could always carry around a wallet full of cash, which has never really been a good idea.

Here are some tips from the National Crime Prevention Council to help you through the holidays:

•    Save all receipts.  Print and save all confirmations from your online purchases.   Start a file folder to keep all receipts together and to help you verify credit card or bank statements as they come in.

•    Consider alternate options to pay for your merchandise, such as onetime or multiuse disposable credit cards or money orders, at online stores and auction sites.

•    Wait until asked before taking out your credit card or checkbook.  An enterprising thief would love to shoulder surf to get your account information.

When shopping online:

•    Before surfing the Internet, secure your personal computers by updating your security software. Everyone’s computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed.

•    Keep your personal information private and your password secure. Do not respond to requests to “verify” your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact. Legitimate businesses will not contact you in this manner.

The holidays are supposed to be a happy time of year.

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