Dangerous Holiday Games Criminals Play On Us!

Holiday games can certainly send the wrong Christmas messages to everyone!

Scammers play holiday games and leave you vulnerable to identity theft.

Scammers and criminals are the only ones to profit by these games.

Holiday games should be a time of fun for all of us, but the thieves have other ideas on the meaning of these two words.

Unfortunately, these types of games just keep on giving.

One of the biggest games thieves love to play, especially during the holiday season, is called identity theft.

Criminal identity theft is one of the nation’s fastest growing crimes and is extremely prevalent when shopping in stores and online.

Please go to holiday safety tips to learn how to protect yourself when shopping online.

We all love the abundance of good things the internet has brought to our lives, but this has also brought with it a whole new venue for criminals to steal our money and identity.

Listed below are some important tips to stay safe while store shopping and a means of keeping your wallet where it belongs…in your possession!

Don’t let yourself become a victim of a scammer's most popular holiday games.

Holiday Games - Carry Only
Necessary Items In Your
Wallet, Pocketbook Or Purse

  • Make sure you clean out your wallet, pocketbook and purse. Don’t carry credit cards you won’t be using, debit cards or social security card.
  • Carrying any unnecessary documentation while shopping may leave you vulnerable to identity theft if your personal items are lost or stolen and cause you to spend a great deal more time in the recovery process.
  • Keep your personal safety a top priority and minimize your chances of identity theft. Don't become a victim of a thief and his holiday games.
  • Many men I know now carry their wallets in their Front pocket rather than a back pocket that is more susceptible to pickpockets.
  • Woman should take the strap of their purse and put it over their head and across the chest.
  • Remember to also zip your purse so a thief doesn’t have easy access to your personal information.
  • Be especially careful at night and always park in an area that is well lit. Always be aware of who and what is around.
  • When shopping in a mall and you are leaving when it’s dark, feel free to ask a security person to walk you to your car.

Holiday Games
Debit Card And Check Card

  • Both your check card and debit card can put the consumer at greater risk than your credit card because fewer consumer protections are offered in case of loss.
  • Debit and check cards take the money directly from your bank account and until your bank sorts out the theft, your money remains missing.
  • Technology has become so sophisticated criminals now do what’s called “skimming”.
  • Skimming is a device that is used to steal your card information that comes off a card-swipe machine used by a merchant.

Holiday Games
“Ye Ole” Gift Card

  • If you purchase a gift card always be aware of fees, expiration dates and if the card is lost what happens.
  • Most gift cards, when purchased in California, cannot have service fees or expiration dates.
  • The laws concerning gift cards do not generally give you a right to recover from a stolen or lost card.
  • Most state laws cover such things as expiration dates, service fees and the cards are exempt from unclaimed property laws.
  • California gift card laws are complex and do not apply to all gift cards.

Holiday Games – Keep Watch On The Information Merchants Ask For

  • Federal law states all electronically printed debit and credit card receipts must truncate (shorten) your account information to contain no more than the card numbers last five digits.
  • Your card’s expiration date must also not be included. This applies to only receipts that are electronically printed.
  • Make sure that any merchant credit card receipts do Not contain your card’s expiration date or full account number or this might be the holiday game that keeps on giving.
  • Many states dictate the type of information a merchant can’t write down or ask for when the consumer pays with a credit card or check.
  • When a consumer in California pays with a credit card, personal information can’t be recorded by the merchant other than the information listed on the front of the credit card.
  • When a check is used by the consumer to pay, the credit card number can’t be recorded by the merchant.

Holiday Games
Showing Your Driver’s License?

We have all been in this position many, many times. While in a store paying for our merchandise we are asked for our driver’s license.

Do you Have have to show it?

  • A merchant can Ask for identification, but in the greater number of situations, a merchant may Not condition the acceptance of a MasterCard or Visa credit card.
  • More than likely the merchant is unaware of this rule.

The credit card must still be accepted by the merchant even if you refuse to provide your identification.

  • Many consumers feel their personal information and identity is more at risk when their birth date, address and other information is revealed and do not want to show a stranger this type of information.
  • Below I have supplied a copy from the manual and links of MasterCard and Visa Merchant Rules.

The MasterCard Merchant Rules Manual provides as follows:

9.11.2 Cardholder Identification

A merchant must not refuse to complete a MasterCard card transaction solely because a cardholder who has complied with the conditions for presentment of a card at the POI [point of interaction] refuses to provide additional identification information, except as specifically permitted or required by the Standards.

A merchant may require additional identification from the cardholder if the information is required to complete the transaction, such as for shipping purposes.

A merchant in a country or region that supports use of the MasterCard Address Verification Service (AVS) may require the cardholder’s ZIP or postal code to complete a cardholder-activated terminal (CAT) transaction, or the cardholder’s address and ZIP or postal code to complete a mail order, phone order, or e-commerce transaction.

(http://www.mastercard.com/us/wce/PDF/MERC-Entire_Manual.pdf [1]) MasterCard has an online form for reporting merchant violations of this rule.

Go to http://www.mastercard.com/us/personal/en/contactus/merchantviolations.html [2] and check the box: “The merchant/retailer required identification.”

The Rules for Visa Merchants provides:

When should you ask a cardholder for an official government ID?

Although Visa rules do not preclude merchants from asking for cardholder ID, merchants cannot make an ID a condition of acceptance.

Therefore, merchants cannot refuse to complete a purchase transaction because a cardholder refuses to provide ID.

Visa believes merchants should not ask for ID as part of their regular card acceptance procedures.

Laws in several states also make it illegal for merchants to write a cardholder’s personal information, such as an address or phone number, on a sales receipt.

(http://usa.visa.com/download/merchants/rules_for_visa_merchants.pdf [3], Rules for Visa Merchants, page 29).

Retailers aren’t aware of, or are inclined to ignore these rules.

If you are concerned about showing your personal information, you may elect to print a copy of the pertinent merchant rule for MasterCard and Visa and ask to speak to the store manager.

To learn how to stay safe when shopping online go to, internet identity theft to become knowledgeable about scams and more "holiday games".

As you can see, holiday games are everywhere, touch everything and the criminal is playing and playing hard. Protect yourself from becoming a victim and losing everything you’ve worked so hard for.

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