With Black Friday and the holiday shopping season coming soon, I’d like to remind you all about the importance of staying safe and keeping your information protected. Shopping during the holidays can be a very exciting time, but can also leave you vulnerable to identity theft and fraud. To make sure we all enjoy this time of the year, I want to offer my own advice and information on keeping your personal data protected.
How to Shop Securely
In today’s technology driven society, more and more people do their holiday shopping online. While this is a very convenient alternative to visiting brick-and-mortar stores, it still poses new risks to your personal information. Last year, 43% of consumers who had their identity stolen said it happened online during the holidays. To help lower this number, there are many things you can do to stay protected.
When you are shopping online, make sure the websites you use are 100% secure. A good way to do this is by regularly checking your web browser and the URLs of the websites you visit. If a website requires any of your personal data, it will have a URL that begins with https. Sites that begin with https minimize the risk of fraud because they protect any data you send through them. As another layer of security, it is also always smart to create a secondary email address used only for online purchases. This way, you’ll always know what you are buying and can easily compare your records with activity that may appear out of place.
If you do most of your holiday shopping in person, I am happy to say that our current technology has made the process safer and easier. With services like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, you don’t even need to use your plastic cards and can pay right from your mobile device! This means that retail staff will never see your card information and your personal data will be protected. And as always, the Nutmeg Mobile App is available as a secure option to do all of your banking on the go as you shop for the holidays.
Red Flags of Identity Fraud
With my experience in the financial services industry, I have seen many warning signs of identity theft over the years. I’d like to note some things you should look out for during the holiday season as well as in your daily life.
- Never provide any personal or financial information to anyone who has contacted you over the phone or internet.
- Don’t ignore small charges on your accounts. If an identity thief has gained access to your information, this is usually how they can test your card to see if it is active before making larger purchases.
- Carefully read your financial statements, look for unauthorized changes and report them as soon as possible.
- Set up customizable e-Alerts to notify you of your account activity.
- Every year, order a copy of your credit report and check it for accuracy.
Most importantly, we are here to help. Card fraud and identity theft are very real threats (especially during the holiday season), but with new security technology and active awareness of your information the risks become much lower. Additionally, we have fraud detection systems in place that monitor your credit and debit activity to minimize any risks to your personal data. If your cards are used for a purchase that triggers an alert, you will be contacted by our Transaction Review Department and asked to verify the purchase. It’s important to note the caller will only ask that you confirm the amount and location of the purchase and no other personal information will be requested.
If you see any irregular or unauthorized account activity, please contact us immediately. We have an Identity Theft Recovery Service in place to ensure that you are protected at all times. In the event that your identity is compromised, we will assign a professional to help in the recovery process, provide you up to $10,000 in expense coverage and more. Click here to learn more about all the ways we can help you restore your identity and personal data.
I hope this information has been a helpful refresher for you and raises your awareness of theft during this time of year. On behalf of all of us at the credit union, I’d like to wish you and your family a happy and safe holiday season.
President & CEO