If you prefer to do much of your holiday shopping without having to leave your home, you’re in good company this season. Protect your money and your personal data from falling into the wrong hands over the holidays with these essential tips:
Don’t click on email links or download attachments from unfamiliar senders: An ever-popular method cyberattackers use to compromise your computer and steal your personal financial information is through a practice referred to as phishing scams. Posing as a legitimate merchant, the attacker may send you fraudulent emails with links, attachments or Internet pop-up messages asking for your account information or directing you to a fake website. If an email you receive seems in any way suspicious, resist the urge to open it and simply delete. A few red flags to look out for: glaring grammatical errors in an email or websites with urls of commonly misspelled words.
Buy from reputable, known sites: It’s generally safer to start your online shopping at the site of a trusted brand rather than through a search engine, which is more apt to send you to a spoofed website. Found a perfect gift for a loved one advertised online at an unusually low price from a retailer that you don’t recognize? Make sure that you can find both contact information and a physical address for the merchant. Also look for the critical “s” in the web address in the browser bar (it would appear as https or shttp) which indicates that the retailer uses SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption. And be wary of a vendor that doesn’t display the image of a padlock to the left of the url’s text or in the status bar at the bottom of your browser.
Don’t overshare: Maintaining discretion when it comes to sharing personal information online can go a long way in preventing you from being a target of a cybercriminal. As cyberattackers gain greater access to personal data, they become better equipped to target their attacks to individuals by exploiting what they know about their preferences, demographics, etc. If a merchant wants to know your birthday or social security number, ask yourself why they would need this information to process your transaction. In almost all cases, they don’t.
Safeguard your devices: With malware (malicious software) attacks on mobile devices on the rise, it’s critical that you keep your tablet, smartphone or laptop clean with the newest versions of your operating systems, browsers, programs and apps. Also be sure to keep you anti-virus and anti-malware protection current. And if you have yet to lock these devices down with a password, there is no better time like the present to take this quick and easy step!
Stay on top of your accounts online: Although it’s recommended that you regularly review your account activity online for any unauthorized transactions throughout the entire year, there is perhaps no more important a time to be vigilant about this as the holidays. Fraudulent online activity happens fast and a new trend for purchasing items online for next day pick up at the store is making it easier than ever for thieves to deceive retailers. With less time to investigate transactions before an item must be shipped, suspicious activity can go undetected by the merchant. So be sure to monitor your accounts often this season and contact The Police CU immediately at 800.222.1391 if you think your account may have become compromised.
Enhanced security from The Police Credit Union:
The Police Credit Union is committed to protecting your personal and financial information, and wants to ensure that you use your MasterCard® Debit Card and Visa® Credit Card with confidence this shopping season. In order to help keep your accounts secure, please be aware that our 24 hour a day, seven day a week card fraud detection and notification system, Falcon Fraud Manager, may contact you over the holidays if suspicious activity is detected.
If you receive a call from Falcon Fraud Manager, please work with the automated assistant or call the Falcon Fraud Service Center. If the system is not able to reach you to determine whether a transaction is legitimate and it has been deemed ultra-risky, Falcon Fraud Manager may block your account temporarily to guard against fraudulent activity. Please note: In order to receive calls from Falcon Fraud, your primary phone number must be in our system. Click here for instructions on verifying your primary phone number. Wishing you safe and happy holiday shopping!