Tis the Season to Be Fraud Aware

Well, it’s that time of year again, the holiday season is now in full swing. COVID-19 is something we are all aware of and practicing safety protocols to avoid. However, we also must remember that this is the time of year where credit card fraud, scams, counterfeit bills, and identity theft are also on the uptick. It’s definitely time for individuals and businesses to increase their fraud awareness and be extra vigilant.

“The holiday season has always been the peak time for fraud as holiday spending provides a tempting opportunity for fraudsters,” according to a Liz Lasher, vice president of fraud and financial crimes at FICO, as mentioned in this report from cnbc.com.

Lasher went on to state that because consumers are so busy with shopping, preparations, and festivities, they don’t take the extra time to scrutinize email links that pose as being from a store or delivery service. Or, they will fail to notice a few fraudulent charges among the higher volume of transactions on their bank or credit card statements.

Still, while the potential for fraud is higher during the holiday season, using a credit card is still the best way to shop. Card issuers provide zero liability protection, which means you won’t be held responsible for fraudulent charges. What steps can you take to protect yourself from credit card fraud this holiday season?

  • Monitor your credit card accounts. While you should be doing this on a regular basis, is especially important during the holidays. Make sure all charges posted to your account were made by you or an authorized user on your account.
  • Be wary of advertisements. You may be tempted to click on social media ads on Instagram or Facebook, but you should do so sparingly. Clicking on these ads may lead you to a site that isn’t reliable.
  • Secure your information. Don’t leave any personal information clearly visible when out in public, where someone might be able to peer over your shoulder and access your data. Use a mobile wallet, such as Apple Pay to avoid exposing your credit card information. Use cellular data to access the internet when you’re out and about, rather than public Wi-Fi, which isn’t secure and leaves you vulnerable to hackers.
  • Watch out for spam phone calls. Spam calls will increase in frequency during this time of year as well, with fraudsters calling and trying to obtain personal and financial information from you. If you get a call from someone who claims to be a representative from your bank, don’t believe it. Your bank will never ask you for your password or social security number – especially if you didn’t initiate the call. It is important to prepare the elderly people in our lives of these types of scams as well, as the elderly are the most preyed upon and vulnerable to these criminals.

2020 has been very challenging for everyone. It’s been a tough year and we all deserve to celebrate with a little holiday cheer. Just remember to stay safe and to protect yourself and your loved ones by being aware this holiday season. Happy Holidays!