4 Ways to Keep the Grinch From Stealing Your Good Credit

By Lifestyle and Budget Credit.com

During the holiday season, we’re ever at risk for fraud and identity theft as we head out-and-about and online to shop. Theft of your credit cards or identity can be devastating to your credit, not to mention your finances and emotional well-being. Not something we want to happen during this joyous time of year. Here are some great tips to remember as we break out our cards over the next few weeks.

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1. Shop Safe Online

Be aware that just because you can shop in the comfort and safety of your home doesn’t mean you’re not at risk for identity or credit card theft. Stay safe online by entering your credit card number in as few places as possible by using payment services such as PayPal; shop at reputable websites with names you know and trust; and avoid clicking on links sent to you in email or banner ads that could take to you websites other than where you intended to go.

2. Keep an Eye on Your Cards

When you’re out shopping at a bricks-and-mortar store, keep an eye on your credit cards and make sure store clerks are not allowed to leave your sight with your cards in hand. Also, pick-pockets are common this time of year, so make sure to keep your valuables safe when you are in public.

3. Check Your Statements

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Checking your bank and credit card statements regularly – even as often as every day – is a great habit to start now, if you don’t already do it. This time of year, when you’re more likely to have increased activity on your accounts, it’s especially important to review them carefully and thoroughly. Get signed up for online access so you don’t have to wait for paper statements to arrive. If you see anything questionable, you can act on it right away and resolve any problems. You can also sign up for alerts to notify you whenever a purchase goes through.

4. Check Your Credit Reports & Credit Scores

The end of the year is also a great time to pull your credit report and/or get your credit score and compare it to your last one. Check your credit reports for any incorrect or unfamiliar information, inquiries or credit accounts. Report any suspicious or wrong information to the creditor and the credit bureau. You can pull your credit reports for free every year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies on AnnualCreditReport.com, and you can see two credit scores for free on Credit.com.

With these four simple steps and by being smart and aware of your surroundings, you can help keep yourself, your identity and your credit safer from the Grinch. Cheers to a happy holiday season!

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

Jeanne Kelly is a nationally recognized authority on credit, the founder of The Kelly Group and the author of The 90-Day Credit Challenge. She has appeared on The Today Show, and blogs for Huffington Post & Poughkeepsie Journal. Visit her online at www.JeanneKelly.net