The holiday season is a great time of year for enjoying the company of friends and family. In the excitement of the season it is important to be aware of common financial and legal issues. These issues may involve traveling, shopping or simply managing finances. These tips may help you avoid some common headaches so you can enjoy your holiday season. If you need legal assistance call your LegalShield provider law firm.
- Make smart choices to protect your budget. It may feel like holiday fun comes down to putting on the best party or buying the best gifts but it is not worth jeopardizing your finances. Avoiding bills or paying only the minimum is a bad idea since you will owe twice as much after the holidays. Before the spending kicks into high gear set a budget and stick to it. Think about who you want to buy gifts for and select a dollar amount per gift that you can afford to spend. Also be sure to factor in the potential cost of holiday travel and entertaining into your budget.
- Beware of new credit offers. Credit card debt always increases at the holidays. Most major retailers offer special incentives for signing up for store credit cards at checkout. Fifteen percent off or zero interest for a year may seem like a great deal until you read the fine print. A busy checkout line is not a great place to conduct a thorough review of credit terms. Do not sign up for new lines of credit without reviewing rates and terms carefully. Call your LegalShield provider law firm for assistance.
- Watch for holiday scams. Retailers are not the only ones ramping up for the holidays. Scammers often take advantage of the holiday spirit of giving by soliciting money with hard luck scams or fake charities. Beware of any deals that are too good to be true. Bait-and-Switch scams use cheap tablets, smartphones, MP3 players, jewelry and gift cards as bait. They may even allow you to check out the item, but rest assured, after money is exchanged you will not get the item you were expecting.
- Protect your smartphones and tablets. Tablets and smartphones are another target for thieves and scammers. Do not leave your phone or other device on the seat of your car when parked and watch them carefully when in a public place. Always password protect your devices. Beware of free open Wi-Fi hotspots by configuring your phone to only join approved networks. Scammers sometimes set up free wireless networks in public places to lure users to log on. Joining the network could allow the scammer to track data, including credit card numbers or other financial information, going to and from your phone.
- Travel safe and smart. Whether you are driving or flying, it is important to be prepared. Protect your home while you are away by placing a hold on your mail and alerting a close friend or your local police department that you will be away. Avoid mentioning travel details on social networks. While traveling, do not let your passport or other important documents out of your sight and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.Check airport security rules and regulations before you leave. The United States Transportation Security Agency and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority websites offer detailed information on what to expect when traveling.
- Follow traffic laws and drive safely. Traffic stops and citations increase around the holidays:
- Watch your speed and adjust your driving particularly in heavy traffic and difficult weather.
- Avoid distractions like texting or emailing while driving. Never drink and drive. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol puts your life and the lives of others in grave danger. Even blood alcohol levels below your state’s legal limit can impair your driving and increase your chance of injury or death in an accident. First offenses of DUI or DWI may land you in jail and leave you with a criminal record. The best way to avoid DUI or DWI accidents and criminal charges is to avoid drinking and driving all together.
- If stopped by the police pull safely off the road, turn your interior light on at night, keep your hands on the wheel, be polite and cooperative with the police officer and address the officer as “sir” or “ma’am”. Comply with the officer’s requests for your name, driver’s license, registration and insurance information. Do not exit the vehicle unless you are directed to do so by the officer. You do not have to consent to a search of your car. If the officer searches over your objection, stay calm, tell the officer you object to the search and do not physically resist the search.