The holidays are the season of giving, but it is also a season of buying. Many retail stores are packed with shoppers trying to complete their gift lists. Instead of fighting the crowds, many people shop online for the majority of their gift buying. Online shopping tends to be a less stressful alternative to the in-person shopping experience. However, the prevalence of online shopping has made it easier for scammers to take advantage of you. Below are several financial tips to help you guard your money and financial security.
Update Your Passwords
Having a strong password is the first step in guarding your personal information. Hackers might try to access your accounts by guessing your passwords. Examples of passwords that can be easily guessed range from family birthdays and the name of your pet to the most common passwords in the world: 123456 and the word 'password'. When creating your passwords, try to avoid information that can be easily identified from your social media or elsewhere on the Internet. Make sure to use a mix of capital letters, numbers, and special characters in your password. This will go a long way in protecting your information. Lastly, your password's length plays the most prominent role in keeping your account information safe. Try picking a longer and more complex password.
Don't Buy Gift Cards for Payments
Gift cards are a good option for that family member who is always hard to shop for. However, they also happen to be a scammer's favorite means for stealing your money. Anyone who contacts you and demands payment in gift cards, for any reason, is usually a scammer. Avoid contact with any vendor who requires payment through gift cards. Scammers use gift cards for payments because they are virtually untraceable. They are free to use the gift cards to buy expensive merchandise or trade the card's value for cash and cryptocurrency.
Research Charities Before Donating
'Tis the season for giving: given this, you might try and make a difference and donate to a charity or nonprofit. Before you donate to a charity, ensure that you do your fair share of research before you give them any of your information. Make sure your donation is going to those in need and not into the hands of scammers. Many fraudsters will pretend to be legitimate charities to con you out of your hard-earned money. If someone calls asking for a donation, don't rush to give them your information. Verify the charity's identity and how much of your donation is going to people in need.
If something appears too good to be true, it most likely is. This relates to many aspects of life, including hot holiday deals. Be alert for any phishing emails or texts that promise you unbelievable savings if you 'act right now'. Scammers can be very skilled at mimicking the look and feel of legit companies. When in doubt, make sure to visit a retailer's website directly to check if the deal is too good to be true.
Card Credential Theft
With online shopping reaching its peak during the holidays, it is vital that you protect your card information from being compromised. First, avoid storing your payment details when making online purchases. Storing your card information on the website saves you time when making a purchase. Unfortunately, it also puts your data at risk of being compromised. Another step you can take to protect your money is setting up balance alerts with the ALLIANCE Credit Union mobile app. Make sure to set your alert to a balance that you typically wouldn't go under or set notifications for every transaction. Lastly, beware of any phishing emails or phone calls you receive about your card. Never give out your information over the phone or by email. Instead, call your credit union or credit card company directly to verify any suspicious activity.
The ALLIANCE Mobile Banking App
To protect your money from falling into the hands of a scammer, you have to be constantly vigilant over your financial activity. However, it is now easier than ever to protect and monitor your money on the go. With the ALLIANCE Mobile Banking app, you can set up account notifications, check your credit score, and control your cards remotely. Download the ALLIANCE app today on the App Store or Google Play!