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7 Holiday Fraud Protection Tips

May 12, 2020

We have all been to the mall during the Christmas season. It’s usually tough to find a parking spot, then you cram yourself through the door with a dozen other people and attempt to battle the crowds and lines. Shopping online is a great solution but remember that those crazy Christmas transactions are still happening all around you in Cyberspace. In 2018, Holiday e-commerce sales were responsible for $126 billion. Therefore, the holidays are a great time to refresh online fraud protection habits that will help keep your personal information and money secure.

Don’t make purchases over Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi is great, it gives your phones' data plan a much-needed break and makes for a great resource as you research a paper at Starbucks. However, public Wi-Fi is not secure. Experts say you should never access anything private such as your bank account or use your credit card while over public Wi-Fi. Those transactions should be done on secure network sites, usually your home. If you just must get those boots now because the sale ends in 30 minutes, use a personal hotspot or switch to data.

Beware of the “Too Good to Be True” Coupons

Coupon codes can be an awesome resource during holiday shopping and often lead to deals such as 15% off your purchase or free shipping, but remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A coupon should NEVER ask for personal information or credit card information before offering the code. Be aware of suspicious emails and pop-ups that at first glance appear to be from one of your favorite stores but are offering an illegitimate deal. Spelling and punctuation errors are usually a good sign that the email is a scam.

Create Strong Passwords

Middle name, birthdate, exclamation point. Sound like your password? If it does you need to develop stronger passwords and now is the time to do it before Cyber Monday is upon us! Experts say this is the most ignored cybersecurity practice and have some tips for developing more secure passwords. First, create unique passwords for every site and update them every 30 to 90 days. Passwords should never include meaningful names or dates, but instead a series of random numbers, letters, and characters. To those of you (like myself) shaking your head saying, “If I did that, I’d be eternally locked out of all my accounts” check out password managers such as LastPass. These apps make it easy to stay secure.

2-Step Verification is Your Friend

Yes, it can get old constantly re-verifying your identity to get into your major accounts such as Google, Facebook, and Apple. But hackers trying to steal your personal information find it even more annoying. Experts say a text to the phone is more secure than an emailed code, but anything is better than just a password. Something as simple as this is often enough to get a would-be hacker away from your accounts and on to easier prey.

Don’t Save Payment Info for Future Use

Saving Payment info makes online transactions quick and easy, but it also makes your credit card information much more vulnerable to data breaches. Consider corporations like Target and Verizon, both were affected by large-scale data breaches in 2017, and millions of consumer's private information were put at risk of being stolen. The less you save on your online profile, the less a cybercriminal can gain if they were to hack in. While we're at it, when you do make online purchases, it is better to use credit cards rather than debit cards for better fraud protection.

Practice Smart Tech Protection

Consider software that can protect information stored on your computer. Malware is one of the biggest threats to your computer. Programs such as Microsoft FREE Security Essentials will run in the background constantly scanning for dangerous malware and intermittently run diagnostics to make sure none has gotten through. Programs such as Track Me Not will stop search engines from gathering your search history to build profiles of you. Other software can encrypt your emails to protect sensitive attachments such as driver’s license and financial records.

Monitor Your Accounts

With our smartphones today there is no excuse to not check our statements and transactions often. SunMark’s Banking App allows customers to monitor each transaction made with not only a SunMark card but also any accounts linked to your SunMark bank account. Knowledge is power and it’s at our fingertips! Most thieves will attempt a small transaction before going forward with a larger one. The quicker fraud is identified the more likely a consumer will recoup all losses.

Follow these tips and then remember to RELAX! It’s the holidays after all and you have worked so hard to get the perfect gifts for your loved ones. Happy Holidays from SunMark!