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November 14, 2017
Holiday Seasons Tips

The holiday shopping season kicked off for millions of Americans on Thanksgiving weekend. With all of the bargains and promotions being advertised, there will be deals aplenty for consumers this year. With the anticipated influx of shopping activities there also comes an increased risk of fraud occurring because, just like consumers, fraudsters are also gearing up for a busy shopping season.
Here are some Holiday Shopping Tips to Help Prevent Fraud:
• Notify your bank if you plan to travel — domestically or internationally. This will prevent your bank from flagging your account for possible fraud and preventing access to your funds.
• Take advantage of mobile and on line banking. By keeping track of your spending through real-time debit transaction notifications on your mobile device, you can identify fraud or abuse as soon as it happens. Setting alerts using on line banking is another great way to monitor your account balances.
• Review your passwords. Make sure the passwords for all of your financial accounts contain at least eight characters, uppercase and lowercase letters, numerals and other symbols. Never use names, birthdates or easily identifiable terms. Use a unique password for online-banking.
• Check your credit report for abuse and errors. The federal government allows you to obtain one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
• Avoid “Too Good to Be True” Deals During this busy time of year, scammers may prey on your desire to find a deal. Look for signs of a scam if you get emails from unknown senders advertising heavily discounted products. Check out the Better Business Bureau site for reviews on local and national companies. If you’re not sure, stick with sites you know.

• Monitor Your Credit and Debit Card Activity Use online banking to frequently review the activity on your accounts to ensure they’re all authorized.

• Do not carry your checkbook or more credit cards than you will use during that shopping trip. If your wallet is lost or stolen, this will limit the damage. Make a copy of the front and back of all credit cards, and put the list in a safe place at home. In an emergency, you will have easy access to a list of all your cards, the account numbers, and the bank's Customer Service number to report the incident.

• Make-money-quick offers. If you need money in a hurry during the holidays, you’ll be particularly tempted by offers to get some quickly. Resist the temptation, and do thorough research before responding to any offer of work from home or opportunities to make money fast.

• If shopping online, make sure you are shopping on a legitimate secure website (“https”); avoid selecting pop-ups which could re-route you to a fraudulent site.

• Do not share any personal identifying information over the phone unless you have placed the call. If you receive a call from a company or agency requesting your information, politely hang up and call the company back using a phone number provided by a credible resource such as a phone book or online.

• If you suspect or identify any fraudulent activity through your account, or suspect that your Identity has been compromised, alert your bank right away!