As the holidays approach, a certain joy fills the air. It is the season of giving and a reminder to appreciate all that we hold dear. Unfortunately, the Grinch isn’t the only one known for stealing Christmas. It is also the season of fraud, and with this sharp increase in illegal practices, it is important to keep your finances secure, because fraud can happen to anyone.

Criminals often take advantage of this time of the year, simply because their target population drastically increases with holiday shopping. There is much more of an opportunity to commit fraud, because there is such a rise in credit card activity. People tend to use their cards more than usual, sacrificing security for the sake of convenience.

Additionally, technology has made it easier than ever for someone to commit fraud without physically taking your credit card. Devices known as “skimmers” can be used at any location where you swipe your card, and small devices within an ATM can record your pin numbers as you enter them. Thousands of people are victims of fraud each year through methods such as these.

Luckily there are ways you can protect yourself this holiday season. Before you even venture into retail establishments, make certain that you know the location of your cards. Additionally, do not carry around more credit cards than is necessary. If you do decide to leave your purse or wallet in the car, place it somewhere that is not visible, such as the glove compartment or trunk. With fraud at such a high rate this time of year, any tempting item left in sight on the passenger seat is an invitation for someone to take that item.

If you don’t have your credit card and bank account information written down already, that should be on your to-do list. If you are the victim of fraud, you can immediately notify the proper authorities and likely reduce or even prevent heavy financial losses.

Another thing you should keep track of is your receipts. As tedious as it may be, balance your checkbooks! If anything does appear to be amiss, you can be aware of it very quickly and can possibly identify who is committing the crime. Protection of your passwords and pin numbers can also ensure the safety of your accounts, as long as you have made your pass codes more difficult than your last name.

These safe practices can keep your financial information safe from criminals trying to reap the benefits of your increase in spending. Be cautious with where you are providing credit card information, and keep track of what you purchase. Don’t let credit card fraud prevent you from having a budget-friendly and happy holiday.

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