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Credit card debt, identity theft rise during holiday season, financial adviser says

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Since before Thanksgiving Day, shoppers have been pulling out their credit cards in stores across the U.S., with the holiday season now in full swing.

Anthony Caputa is a personal finance counselor for Genesis Financial Management, a nonprofit debt management company. He said this is the time of year many lose control of their spending.

He recommended people use debit cards, which spend actual money an accountholder has. Credit cards can also charge higher interest rates.

“Only spend what you have,” Caputa said. “We all like to buy Christmas presents for loved ones, but you don’t want to spend too much. And that’s usually where people get in trouble with credit cards because they think they have more than they really do.”

He said young people should use credit cards to build up good credit, though, as long as they don’t overspend.

Caputa advised shoppers to construct a reasonable budget for the holiday season and stay within those boundaries when going to stores.

He also cautioned shoppers to be careful carrying physical cards. Both young and old cardholders are susceptible to identity theft.

A new card-reading technology can grab a card’s numbers through a person’s wallet. He said to put wallets in jacket pockets or keep them in purses, rather than on outside pants pockets.

Caputa said if your identity is stolen, call credit bureaus for fraud alert, call the Social Security office and file a police report to ensure you are not responsible for money stolen.


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