Skip the Scams this Holiday Season

by | Nov 30, 2021 | Identity Theft, Personal Finance

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The holidays are a time when we open our homes, hearts, and wallets. Skip the scams and shop safely this holiday season by following these simple suggestions…

  • Review Your Account Activity. Digital Banking makes it easy to keep real-time tabs on your accounts. Regularly review transactions on your bank accounts and credit cards. See a charge you don’t recognize? Never be afraid to call your Banker and ask for more information about a transaction. You can give yourself additional protection by setting up alerts to your smartphone or email, such as: available balance, debit over a certain amount, or low balance.

 

  • Don’t Share Personal Information Online. Bankers, Medicare or Social Security employees will never ask for personal information via email or text. If someone asks you to provide or confirm your account number, social security number, address, or other personal information, don’t give it out. Fraudsters will pretend to be someone your trust and often pressure you to provide what they want. If you have any reason to be suspicious, politely end the call. You can always contact your financial institution or a government office directly to follow-up and ensure it was not legitimate.

 

  • Protect Gift Cards Like Cash. Gift cards, like cash, are untraceable. Never use gift cards for any payment, other than to the store it is issued from. Scammers will try and convince you to give them gift card numbers as payment or as a ‘donation’ to charity. If a scam-artist gets your gift card information, there isn’t anything you (or we) can do. Learn more about gift card scams in this article from AARP

 

  • Beware of Fake Sellers. Websites with ‘too good to be true’ deals are probably fake. Social media and pop-up ads are often linked to bogus websites. They will gladly collect your payment information and never ship you the order. Do your homework on retailers you have never heard of; read their reviews (if any). When in doubt, stick with retailers you are familiar with.

 

  • Avoid Public Wi-fi. Resist the urge to connect to public wi-fi when you are out shopping or sitting in the local coffee shop. Unsecured wi-fi networks can leave you vulnerable to hackers. While you’re entering your card information or logging into online accounts, they could be accessing your account information to use for themselves. Be safe and only enter payment information on secure networks, such as your home wi-fi.

 

  • Don’t Cash Checks for Strangers. Ever. Also, don’t give a refund for overpayment on an item you’re selling (especially online). Scammers might overpay with a (bad) check and then ask for a cash refund, leaving you with less than you started with.

 

It’s no secret, the safest place to shop is LOCAL. We encourage you to pick up gift certificates, stocking stuffers, hostess gifts and more from locally-owned businesses. When you must go online for your holiday shopping, be sure to follow these tips to protect your identity and keep your money safe. And don’t let your guard down in January, scammers work year-round…

 

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