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  • Dean Smith

ICU Investigations Wants YOU to Protect Yourself from Fraud and Scams this Holiday Season

According to an article by Alliant Credit Union, consumers should be extra vigilant during the holiday season, as fraud attempts increase approximately 30%. We want you to be protected from fraud and avoid being a victim during the season of giving, so we are bringing you these 8 tips on behalf of Alliant Credit Union:

  1. Monitor your transaction history daily. Daily may seem excessive, but with an increase in spending during the holidays, it is easy for fraudulent charges to slip through the cracks. The earlier you flag discrepancies in your account, the better!

  2. Utilize Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, etc. Why? Because adding your debit and credit cards to these digital wallets allows you to take advantage of the latest forms of encryption protection. There’s a reason you haven’t heard about breaches with Apple and Samsung. Bonus: You can shop online or in-store with your smartphone!

  3. If it seems too good to be true, it is. Bogus links and fraudulent websites made to mimic other popular shopping sites, charities, etc. absolutely exist. Alliant urges you to ask yourself these questions when making purchases and donating online, and be cautious: “Does the deal look too good to be true? Is the site asking for irrelevant personal information? Ensure you are purchasing from legitimate and secure sites, and make sure you have the most updated anti-virus software just in case.”

  4. Verify secure checkout. You’ve already added items from a retailer to your cart, and you have one final step to second guess prior to purchase. At checkout, verify the security by taking a look at the URL. If it begins with “https://” while you’re on the checkout page, “this means the site is using an SSL certificate to secure data as it passes from the website to the server and keeps it safe from hackers,” according to Alliant.

  5. Request transaction alerts via text or email. “Most financial institutions offer customizable transaction alerts via email or text,” says Alliant. You set the parameters. Maybe EVERY SINGLE transaction is too much, maybe not! If you prefer to get an alert about any transaction over $50, do so! You choose.

  6. Make yourself aware of your accounts/credit card/bank fraud policies. Be sure to read up on your agreements for your accounts, credit cards, debit cards, etc. For instance, “many credit cards offer something called ‘Zero Liability,’ which applies to purchases made in the store, over the phone, online or via a mobile device.” Zero Liability means you won’t be responsible for ANY fraudulent activity!

  7. Shield your PIN number, and if you feel it’s been compromised, change it. Better to be safe than sorry. Be aware of your surroundings at all times when utilizing your debit/credit cards in public places. Shield your PIN number on the key pad when you enter it. If you think someone was able to detect or record your PIN or feel it’s been compromised, change it immediately. Furthermore, ATM skimming devices, which record your card number and PIN, do exist. Know what to look for!

  8. NEVER provide your personal information upon request. Your financial institution will NEVER contact you and ask you for your personal information, or prompt you to click on a link and enter your personal information. Alliant notes, “In reality, anyone who contacts you directly asking for your information over the phone, via email or via social media is likely not authorized to do so. Err on the side of caution, do not respond, and proactively reach out to your financial institution to confirm if the call or message you received was legitimate.”

Happy Holidays and happy shopping!

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