I have to admit I am truly loving this weather. Though I am a native born Floridian I really enjoy the colder weather. I have lived up north and in Europe during my life so I have had exposure to the cooler climates and find myself outdoors much more on days that have a chill in the air. This change in weather also tends to signify the beginning of the big holiday season which can be a wonderful time for scammers and other criminals wishing to take what you have.
This season generates a lot of purchases made online or in stores with credit and debit cards so as consumers we all need to pay extra attention to how we do business and with whom we do business. Crowded stores and shopping malls create target rich hunting grounds for a wide range of criminals so be visibly alert. The simple act of obviously being aware of your surroundings can go a long way in reducing your chances of being a target. Ladies need to keep their purses close as they are often the target of those with quick hands or quick feet. The men need to pay attention to their wallets don’t leave them sitting on the counter while you are making a transaction. It’s not a bad idea to carry your credit cards/debit card in a small holder and keep it in your front pocket separate from your wallet.
When doing online shopping make sure you know who you are doing business with at all times. Look for websites that have the “https” in their address to help increase your information security. Technology is one of the greatest points of access that the bad guys have to our information. So make sure that your smartphone is password protected and you shut your computer off when not at home. Another avenue used by cybercriminals this time of year are unsolicited advertisements sent in the form of an email. These emails tend to contain a link that you may think is taking you to a legitimate retail site when in reality it is simply a way for them to gain your information and money for nothing in return. Remember to regularly check your account statements for unauthorized transactions. The sooner you catch such activity the less exposure you have to loss.
The last topic I want to cover this week involves solicitations for credit that seem to come from everywhere this time of year. Junk mail in the form of credit card offers or loan offers become very common during the holiday season. Many are legitimate but many are simply scams looking to hook you into a high interest rate commitment or are simply ways of getting your personal information. If you are looking to get a little extra cash for the holidays deal with reputable lenders and do your research. Make sure to look at the interest rates, fee schedule, and other matters than can take what appears to be a good deal and turn it into a nightmare. Taking a few extra minutes can make sure you have a happy holiday season. As always if you have any questions on any of these topics please feel free to contact us at 352-249-9139 and we will call you back as soon as possible.