Holiday Shopping Do's and Don'ts

Keeping the checkbook at home

Holiday shoppers may be taking too many credit cards with them when they hit the malls. Shoppers should limit their cards to only the one they plan on using, said Identity Theft Resource Center spokesperson Sheila Gordon.

"If you know you're not going to shop at Home Depot, you don't need to take your Home Depot card.  If you know you're going to go to Sears, then take your Sears Card," said Gordon.  She says by limited the number of credit cards you carry you'll have a back up if your purse or wallet is stolen and it could also limit the amount you'll spend.

Another tip during this busy holiday season is to leave your check book at home.  Gordon said, "Don't leave your check book in your car.  Don't carry it with you.  And if you have to use your checks then use a gel pen to write with."  Ink from a gel pen is harder to remove if a scam artist tries to remove your writing and alter the check.

On the positive side there are more ways for consumers to bargain shop than ever before.  There are now a number of websites that help you comparison shop.  You should even look at the store's website where you are shopping since there are often additional coupons or bargains available you won't find in the store.

As for timing? You should shop for clothes now and electronics later, said Consumer Reports editor Tod Marks. Retail stores probably don't have as big a selection of clothes this year so if you want a particular size or color you should buy it now. On the other hand, electronics are plentiful and if big screen TV's for instance do not sell fast enough, you can expect retailers to lower the prices as it gets closer to Christmas.

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