TTAL Shopping Ideas and Cautions For Your Holiday

In the U.S., today is the Thanksgiving holiday, a time to be thankful for all we have, those in our life and reflect on what’s important. For many, it’s also a day of American football-watching or the official kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. Some stores are open today to be followed by Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and last, Giving Tuesday. (No cynicism here! Maybe a little.)

For those of you who plan to shop online this season, I’d like to provide a few possible options as well as cautions I’ve recently learned. Let’s begin with the cautions so we’ll end on a positive tone.

Buyer Beware (and easy ways to protect yourself)

I’m by no means a tech expert and won’t be going into great detail, but there are a few things I’ve experienced or learned of in recent months that you should know. Regard this information as a starting point and do your own homework.


This year, U.S. consumers experienced one of the worst identity hacking events to-date when one of the three major credit bureaus – the entities who hold our identities, our financial histories and our credit ratings – was hacked. If you weren’t affected, you’re fortunate. If you were affected, you know it can be a hassle to clear up and convince creditors you’re creditworthy.

This shopping season, taking a few small measures could prove helpful in keeping you as secure as possible:

a) As is always recommended, change your passwords and make them challenging. I’d recommend changing your passwords immediately after you’ve completed this holiday shopping spree, including the retailer sites, your bank accounts, credit card accounts, etc. Because this time of year, we do significantly more online activity than any other, so, too, do identity thieves. Why not make this a time to update things?

b) Be cognizant not to display your credit cards to people in line near you. Cover your numbers hanging out of the chip reader, turn your card over into your palm, etc. I’m often “educating” clerks not to hand someone’s card to them numbers-up. Why bother? I once had someone take a shopping spree and try to book flights to Rome all from taking a photo of my credit card. Thankfully, my bank thought a sudden trip to Rome seemed suspicious and locked it down.

c) Check with the credit or debit card company you plan to use for online shopping to see if they offer a temporary “online” card for purchases. What this means is they generate a temporary credit card number that takes the place of your real number, adding a layer of protection for online shopping. This option also makes it easier to track should fraudulent purchases take place.

d) Use Paypal. Not only does Paypal provide some buyer protections and dispute resolution, your seller doesn’t receive your credit card data. Even so, if a credit bureau can be hacked, it’s only a matter of time before Paypal would be so continue taking other measures to protect your data.

Spoof site pages

Think you’re shopping on Are you certain? It has been found that some well-known sites have been victims of spoofing. The page you’re looking at looks every bit what you’re used to seeing, even the lock symbol and https…because it’s a copy. The advice is to not go to by the click-through method (clicking a hyperlink found in an article or social media post). Go direct. Type into your address bar.

Facebook Marketplace

I’m in a couple of “Used Gear” groups on Facebook for camera equipment, like you, I’m sure. I’ve begun seeing some comments from members describing problems or cautions. Now, PetaPixel has posted a detailed examples of what’s been happening. I’d like to share this info with you not only to caution you for FB, but also Craigslist and other such sites.

Bottom line: If your gut is telling you something doesn’t feel right about it, heed the warning. And if you experience or witness such a situation, report the person immediately so others don’t become victims.

Now let’s switch gears to gift-giving ideas!

Gift Options

For some, it’s a difficult task coming up with the right gifts so we default to the usual things. Haven’t you noticed a worldwide shift happening lately from “things” to “experiences”? Here are few ideas I have for you:

Photography Tour Gift Certificate

Of course, I must start off by suggesting the gift of Tour Through A Lens. You’re giving the recipient the gift of time to spend on their passion exploring and taking photos.

Gift Certificates will be available for purchase beginning this Small Business Saturday, November 25 through Christmas. Check the Gift Certificate section of the Tours page.

Photography and creative classes

I chose to be an affiliate partner with CreativeLive because I’ve found them to be a solid resource for classes on photography, from beginner to post-processing, from going into business to mind and body exercises for photographers and other creative people who put their bodies under strain doing their craft.

During this time of year, they provide the best deals as well as run free re-watches of your favorite courses. Check them out by using my link: Shop Gift Guides at CreativeLive

Ingenious little picture hangers

Does someone you know have photos or art they’ve been wanting to print/frame and decorate the walls? A few years ago, I became a Kickstarter supporter of Beehhive Picture Hangers. A local father/son team created a way for people like me to spare their walls of multiple “mistake” holes and crooked wall-hangings. I have used them on my most recent projects and have given them as gifts. They are so much simpler and, as an apartment-dweller, they make moving much easier. Check them out! They’re now on Amazon or join their list and receive discounts.

I hope you’ve found this article helpful and informational. May you and your family and friends an enjoyable holiday and safe shopping season! And if you receive camera gear for a gift, don’t put it away. Keep it out. Play with the buttons. Take some photos!

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