The holiday shopping season isn’t just a big season for consumer spending. It’s also a peak time of year for fraud.
Amid the busyness that always comes with the holiday season, it’s easy to make small oversights that end up with a fraudulent scheme stealing your bank info or making unauthorized charges to your credit card. The great news is that by following these tips and paying a little extra attention when making purchases around the holidays, you can protect against fraud during the holidays. Here are seven tips to keep in mind and share with friends and family.
1. Only shop on websites you trust.
E-commerce security can vary widely from one platform to the next. While major retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Target offer reliable online security features, smaller retail websites may vary.
In general, it’s best to shop on websites that have “https” at the beginning of their URL, which indicates a secure connection for transactions. Most web browsers also display a padlock symbol next to secure URLs, providing another way of validating online shopping security. If you don’t see a padlock symbol next to the URL you’re using, it may not be a secure payment portal.
If you’re uncertain of the reputation of an e-commerce site, be cautious and consider purchasing that item or gift from a different trusted brand.
2. Don’t make online purchases when using public or unsecured WiFi.
Unfortunately, public Wi-Fi and unsecured wireless networks are easier outlets for hackers and scammers to access your personal information. Don’t access your bank account or make online purchases unless you’re connected to a secure network.
3. Use a debit or credit card with anti-fraud features.
Many debit and credit cards offer anti-fraud features that help you catch and stop unauthorized transactions before they’re approved by your financial institution. Take advantage of these safeguards by signing up for account alerts and paying attention to communications from your bank.
If your bank doesn’t offer these safeguards, consider switching to an institution that offers active anti-fraud protection for your debit or credit cards.
4. Keep your devices up-to-date with software, browser, and app updates.
Fraud prevention technology is constantly improving, which means most software updates include security fixes that take care of new vulnerabilities. By regularly updating your software, you can protect against scammers who may be trying to capture your banking information around the holidays.
5. Check your bank and credit card accounts frequently.
Mobile banking makes it easy to keep a close eye on your finances. Check these accounts regularly, if not on a daily basis, to make sure unauthorized charges aren’t being made to your account. Account holders can also opt in to receive text alerts on transactions coming from their bank account. This provides even faster monitoring for your accounts, speeding up your response if you suspect any fraudulent activity.
6. Be wary of skimming activity when shopping in stores.
Skimming is a strategy some criminals use to watch over your shoulder for ATM PIN code access, debit card PIN codes, and other information they can use later to steal from your accounts. Be cautious and always cover the keypad when entering this information in a public setting, including ATMs. If you feel you’re being watched by someone you don’t trust, don’t enter the information until you’re certain they have gone away.
There’s no need to let fraud dampen your holiday spirits. The important thing is simply to take extra care when making holiday purchases to be mindful of your surroundings and the platforms where you’ll be providing your banking information.
Plus, fraud prevention is just one small part of prepping for the holiday season. For more valuable insights and tips, download “The Ultimate Holiday Budgeting Checklist & Planner” today.