The holidays are often spent with family and friends, hosting gatherings, traveling, and shopping for loved ones. Stay ahead of online scams, bogus offers, and fake retailers by using these tips to protect your personal information while shopping.
Tip #1: Be Aware of Holiday Shopping Email Scams.
It might be tempting to open an email from an unfamiliar business that promises a “special offer.” But that offer could be “special” in a very bad way.
Take a second look before clicking on emails from unknown and unrecognizable senders or even legitimate looking emails from reputable companies (that is called phishing) because opening these emails could infect your device with viruses and malware. Check for spelling errors, refrain from clicking on any links (tip: first hover over them and confirm its source link), and don’t open any attachments from individuals or businesses you are unfamiliar with. Steer on the side of caution and delete any suspicious emails.
Tip #2: Confirm Websites are Legitimate and Secure.
Some online businesses are fabricated by scammers who are trying to get your credit card information or other personal details. To play it safe, consider making online purchases with retailers you trust or have shopped with before. Take the time to confirm the online business or storefront you a browsing is a legitimate entity by checking customer reviews, other consumer feedback, and the security of the website’s URL.
URLs that start with “https” indicate a level of security needed whenever you’re going to enter your Credit Card or other personal information because it masks the sensitive data you share. Consider using the retailer’s official app to make secure purchases while you’re on-the-go. Always download apps from reputable stores such as Galaxy Apps, the App Store, Amazon App Store and Google Play.
Tip 3: Pay with Your Credit Card and use Mobile Wallet for Added Security.
Did you know that if your credit card information is hacked and unauthorized charges are made, federal regulations removes the financial responsibility from you while the card company investigates? Credit card fraud is a serious problem and it’s best to shield your card information with as many layers of protection as you can. Fortunately for our members, Northeast Credit Union Credit Cards come equipped with Visa’s Zero Liability Policy. This is a guarantee that you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your Credit Card information. You're protected if your Credit Card is stolen or fraudulently used, online or in stores.
For an added layer of security, consider shopping with Mobile Wallet. The Mobile Wallet app on your mobile device allows you to use your credit card or debit cards through your mobile device. Mobile Wallet uses a randomly generated number that is linked to your account (but not your actual credit or debit card number). Major Mobile Wallet platforms that you may have heard of are Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. Typically, these platforms are integrated in your mobile devices. Mobile Wallet is convenient, and allows you to avoid touching a point-of-sale machine while providing an added layer of security since your actual card number is not visible or stored.
Another helpful tip – don’t save your credit card information in your online accounts. Some retail websites may not be properly equipped to secure your information, which could leave your credit card data vulnerable to cyberthieves or data breaches.
Tip #4: Ship to a Secure Location.
The rise of online shopping has led to an increase of home deliveries — and with it, an increase in “porch pirates”, or thieves who steal packages from doorsteps. If no one is home to accept a package, consider having your packages shipped to your work or another safe place like a P.O. Box.
Tip #5: After Your Holiday Shopping is Complete Be Sure to Monitor Your Statements.
Robust holiday shopping can add pages to your credit card statements. Review your statements for fraudulent charges at least once a week or set up account alerts through Northeast CU Digital Banking. When you receive a text or email about a charge, you can check the message, which gives you the ability to recall if you recognize the charge and made that purchase.
To learn more helpful ways of preventing fraud please visit necu.org/reportfraud.