As you camp out for the midnight opening of Black Friday at your favorite retailer, remember to keep a good grip on your plastic.
The number of reported lost or stolen debit and credit cards jumps about 19 percent in November and December, compared with the rest of the year, according to a study released this week by PNC Bank. The study is based on the bank's own reports of stolen or lost cards from 2008 through last year.
PNC attributes much of the increase to higher card usage during the holiday shopping season coupled with crowded stores and long lines.
"Holiday shopping can be a hectic experience," said Mark Ford, consumer credit and debit card expert at PNC Bank. "Losing a credit or debit card, whether by theft or accident, is often a preventable problem."
Here are few tips from PNC (and me) to help keep your plastic where it belongs.
- Take only the cards you plan to use at the store. Leave extra ones at home (in a safe place) in case you lose your wallet.
- Know where you keep your cards, and always put them back in the same spot.
- Always keep an eye on your card during a sale. You want to maintain sight of it through the entire transaction to reduce the chances of the card being skimmed.
- Consider putting purchases on your credit card instead of your debit card. Your liability for fraud losses is much lower for credit cards than debit cards.
- Track your purchases online to make sure there's no odd activity. Set up automatic fraud alerts if your bank or card issuer offers them.
- If you spot suspicious transactions, call the local police, your credit card issuer and the three major credit reporting agencies.
Have you had your credit or debit card lost or stolen during the holidays? Tell me about it.
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