Now that the holiday shopping season is nearing an end, sit down with some eggnog, review your credit card purchases, and make sure they're all yours.
The number of reported lost or stolen credit and debit cards jumps 19 percent in the last two months of the year, according to historical data from PNC Bank. Even if you still have your card, there's a chance that someone could have gotten a hold of your credit card number.
So it's a good idea to look over those purchases once the gift-giving ends.
Here's a quick way to check.
Step one: Account for every transaction on your online credit card statement. Check with family members who are authorized to use your card if you find an unusual purchase.
Step two: If you find a suspicious transaction, call your card issuer immediately to report it.
Step three: Your issuer will probably send you a new card, and it might change your account number to avoid any future, unapproved charges.
Step four: Contact the three national credit reporting bureaus -- Experian, Equifax and TransUnion -- to place a fraud alert on your credit reports. This will notify creditors to take extra steps to verify your identity after a request for credit.
Step five: Pull your credit reports at all three bureaus and check for any unauthorized accounts in your name. If you find any, follow Bankrate's guide to identity theft. If you don't, check your credit reports again in six months for any odd activity. If there's none, you're probably safe.
By the way, everyone should pull their free credit reports every 12 months. It's just a smart way to protect yourself.
Have you been a victim of credit card fraud during the holidays? Tell me your story.
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