Have a Happy, Fraud-Free Holiday
This holiday season, shopping will go online like never before. In fact, depending on which experts you speak to, online retail sales this holiday season will increase by anywhere from 18% to 35% from November through January. And while that’s good news for consumers staying COVID-free this winter, it’s also great news for scammers and hackers who want to steal your money.
Fortunately, there are simple, effective actions you can take to protect yourself.
8 Ways to Avoid Holiday Online Shopping Scams
- Protect Your Debit Cards with Cards Control
Debit Cards Control is an innovative product that allows you to control how, when, and where your debit card is used, all from the convenience of your laptop or smartphone. With Debit Cards Control, you can monitor your debit cards from one location, set alert delivery preferences,* block international transactions,** turn your cards on and off, limit merchant and transaction types, establish spending limits, and more. That’s a lot of fraud-stopping power. To get started, visit our Debit Cards Control page, or log into Mobile or Online Banking.
- Use the Power of Online Banking
IDB Global Federal Credit Union’s Online Banking features can help you protect yourself against debit and credit card fraud. Through our Online Banking, which is free to all members with an account, you can set up mobile and email alerts to get notifications about balance limits, withdrawals and more. Learn more about all you can do here.
- Stick with Large, Well-Known Brands
Large online retailers invest heavily in online security and have a reputation of legitimacy to retain. So sticking with these brands when shopping online is a good hedge against online shopping fraud. Also, be very wary of sites that don’t end in .com or that have odd titles you’ve never heard of.
Legitimate, quality online shopping retailers care about your security, and pay a lot to ensure it. One clue that an online retailer has invested in protecting you from fraud is in its URL, or address bar. It should begin with “https,” not “http.” The “s” connotes that it is a secure site. There should also be a padlock icon () next to it. These are signs that your financial information will be protected through encryption.
- Always Get a Tracking Number
Wherever you shop, get a mail tracking number and carrier information for your order. This not only provides some assurance that a package has been sent, but also allows you to follow that package and know when to follow up on any delays.
- Use Credit Cards
Any seller that requests unusual payment methods, such as direct wire transfers, prepaid or gift cards, or cashiers checks should send the fraud-detecting hairs on the back of your neck to code red. Money sent in these ways is almost impossible to recover, and you have little recourse. A credit card is generally the safest way to pay for an online purchase and most legitimate sellers accept these.
And if you do venture out, make your transactions safer and more convenient using Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Google Pay. Any of these no-touch methods allow you to pay faster and more securely by merely holding your phone near the payment terminal. You can learn more about securely linking your IDB Global Federal Credit Union credit and debit cards here.
- Don’t Allow Sites to Save Your Financial Information
It might be more convenient, but unless you are very sure of the site, allowing online retailers to save your credit card or other financial information could cost you more than it’s worth. Remember, the more places your financial information is stored, the more chances bad actors have at stealing it.
- Study Your Statements
It’s easy to forget to check your debit and credit card statements during the chaos of the holidays. That’s exactly what thieves count on. So check your statements vigilantly and report any suspicious charges immediately. To make that even easier, we suggest signing up for E-Statements through online banking. E-Statements replace your paperless statements and have many advantages: they lower the risk of mail fraud, give you 24/7 access to up to 18 months of statements, are available earlier than paper statements, and are environmentally friendly. You can learn more at our E-Statements page.
- Refuse Direct Requests for Financial or Personal Information
Legitimate online retailers create safe websites, with secure online forms for you to fill out. They never ask for your credit or debit card information via email, text or phone. Conversely, scammers will often contact you by email, phone or text. This should be a very large, very bright red flag. Bottom line: Never give your financial or personal information to a retailer you do not contact yourself.
If you do become a victim of credit or debit card fraud, there are important steps you should take:
- Report the crime to the retailer and your card issuer as soon as you become aware of it.
- Have your credit or debit cards canceled and replaced with cards featuring new numbers.
- Give your new credit or debit card numbers to any entities with which you use auto-pay.
- Report the crime to the police, if necessary.
At IDB Global Federal Credit Union, our focus is you, especially at this time of year. If you receive a suspicious request for your IDB Global Federal Credit Union account information, immediately contact the credit union at [email protected] or 202-623-3363. For the latest information on frauds and scams, visit the Fraud Protection page on our website.
And as always, if you have any questions about this or other topics, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here for you.
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