With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the rest of the holiday shopping season upon us, I’ve compiled a list of the top 5 tips for to help to keep you safe in stores and online this holiday season.
The holiday shopping season is one of the most attractive times of the year for criminals and fraudsters to take advantage of excited shoppers who become their unsuspecting victims. You may think shopping in retail stores, or online is safe, but what you may not realize is that the fraudsters know this as well and will use it to their advantage.
Here are five tips on keeping your account safe this holiday shopping season:
- Proceed with caution to retail locations who do not accept the Chip-Cards.
We all get to the checkout line and we are all trained to look and see if we must swipe or insert our card. With stores converting over to the EMV chip card machines for safer transactions, some stores aren’t capable of having that option available for their consumers. If you encounter a card machine that has that note over it not allowing you to insert your chip card, consider using cash to pay for your transaction or a smartphone payment such as Apple Pay or Android Pay. This will ensure your transaction is protected from fraudsters.
- Enable transaction notification through online banking and smartphone apps.
I strive to always know when money is entering or leaving my account, especially during the holiday shopping season. After all, you’ve got to know how much you have left to spend on the must have gifts for all your family members! Consider adding email or text alerts to your account so that you’re always on top of your account transactions. 1st Financial allows me to easily add text alert notifications that come straight to my phone telling me that a recent purchase just hit my account. This lets me instantly double check that I really did spend that much money or if a fraudster is trying to buy themselves a holiday gift on my account.
- When in doubt, throw it out!
We all stalk our emails, tweet, post and online advertisement for the best deals to grab while shopping the biggest days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These are also ways the cybercriminals love to lure their prey into their trap. They advertise to you with this must have, irresistible deal that you have to take advantage of now and compromise your computer or bank account. If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is. Be sure to mark suspicious emails even if they are from a reliable source as junk, or better yet just delete them.
- Protect your personal information while being savvy.
I love shopping online, especially since I can get some of the best deals this way. Sometimes I’m so blinded by a great deal that I don’t realize how much information I’m handing over in order to get it! When shopping online, be sure that you are on your personal device, connected to a secure Wi-Fi that is trusted, on a secure site that isn’t asking for too much personal information and you use safe payment options like Apple Pay or Android Pay. Be sure to only fill out the required fields and understand how your information will be stored and used not only on your device, but also the website you are using.
- Finally, collect a paper trail.
I know to told you earlier to throw it out, but not when it comes to paper receipts. It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and throw away the paper receipt because we know with online banking that we can track all of our purchases. Don’t throw them out! At least for a little while because those paper receipts allow you to go back and prove that you made that purchase either in store or online. Fraudsters are notorious for making additional similar dollar amounts on accounts to try and disguise what they are buying as a similar transaction to what you may have done in the past. Keep a paper trail so that you can verify exactly what you bought.
When it comes down to it, enjoy the holiday shopping season, find the best deals, buy gifts for everyone on your list, but be sure to protect yourself and your account while doing so. Utilize these tips and get peace of mind while shopping during this most joyous time.
Stay safe and happy holidays,