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Fraud Prevention Tips to Keep Finances Safe During the Holidays

Smiling woman with credit card online Christmas shopping at laptop in living room

Consumers are estimated to spend more than $700 billion during the holiday season in 2019. With an uptick in spending this time of year also comes an increase in financial fraud.

As shoppers look for the best deals online, it’s made them prone to cyber-security thieves. According to Shred-it, 46 percent of Americans believe their security habits make them vulnerable to fraud. More than half of the respondents said they use the same password for multiple accounts, which opens the door for cyber-criminals to gain access to those accounts.

That’s especially prevalent during the holiday season, when fraudsters are hard at work to steal financial information. E-skimming is a growing trend as they watch online shopping carts with more regularity, stealing credit card and debit card information. Thieves place a skimming code on e-commerce payment processing web pages to capture card info, targeting online businesses like retailers, ticket sites, travel-related companies, and utility providers.

The theft can happen on a legitimate website or app, and it can be difficult to detect a compromised website. The skimming code captures information in real time and data is collected by fraudsters behind the scenes. That card data is either sold or used to make fraudulent purchases.

Along with that growing trend during the holiday season, a McAfee study states phishing texts and emails are also a leading cause of fraud this time of year, second only to robocalls. Phishing emails and texts look like they come from a legitimate company, asking consumers to click a link that goes to a fraudulent website (but looks nearly identical to the real company). Once a user inputs their information, the scammer can use those login details to steal card and financial information.

With these types of fraud spiking during the holidays, here are tips to keep your finances safe:

  • Enter your credit card info once. It’s safer than entering it repeatedly on a site. Some shops now offer Amazon Pay, which allows you to avoid potential skimming by paying via the card stored in your Amazon account.
  • Use Apple Pay or a similar mobile pay system. This sends a one-time token of your credit card information. Even if the token is skimmed, fraudsters can’t access your credit card information.
  • Avoid banner ads, use secure browsers. Try not to click on ads for specific stores or products to avoid malware-infected pop-ups. Type the web address yourself and only shop on well-known, reputable sites.
  • Don’t give out personal information, log-in info. That goes for all phone calls and text messages. Don’t respond to a text alert saying we need your card info. We NEVER send a message asking for account or personal information, so NEVER give out these details. As part of our fraud prevention, we only send messages asking if a purchase is authentic or valid.
  • Enable two-factor authentication for all connected devices. Use strong passwords and change them frequently, and don’t use the same password for multiple sites.
  • Activate alerts, monitor your accounts. Setting up card alerts for your account in mobile banking makes sure you’re always in the know. Review your transactions on a frequent basis. Pay careful attention to your credit card and account statements to spot any signs of misuse, and report any fraudulent or questionable charges as soon as you notice them.

Our Customer Care Center is open 24/7, even on holidays, so be sure to notify us immediately at 740.349.8633 if you suspect something suspicious. If you’re concerned about your account or money, we’re always here to help.


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