According to the U.S. Department of Justice's Consumer Sentinel Network, there is $5.55 billion in credit card fraud worldwide, and 10 percent of all Americans have been victims. Before one of the busiest shopping times of the year, it's important for consumers to be prepared for the holidays by learning how to shop safely--whether its online, in-store or on a mobile device. During the holiday season, especially, people need to know what to look out for and how to properly protect themselves. By taking simple precautions, shoppers can reap significant benefits when it comes to fraud prevention.
Before heading out the door or logging on to your favorite websites, review these tips:
Monitor Purchase Activity
‘«ů Remember to review your account activity regularly, especially when you're busy shopping for the holidays. Enroll in mobile banking so you can view a snapshot of your accounts while on the go and monitor your purchase activity online from home. Also, sign up for transaction alerts for your checking account, debit card, and credit card to receive text or e-mail notification about account activity.
Protect Your Identity
‘«ů When it comes to keeping your personal and financial information safe, it's important to be proactive. Carry only necessary information with you and leave your social security card and unused credit cards at home in a safe and secure location. Make photocopies (front and back) of vital information you carry regularly and store them in a secure place, such as a safety deposit box. Then, if your purse or wallet is lost or stolen, you have contact information and account numbers readily available. Always shred documents containing personal or financial information before discarding. Many fraud and identity theft incidents happen as a result of mail and garbage theft.
Be Careful What You've Disclosed
‘«ů Be wary of special holiday offers or requests for personal or financial information via e-mail, text message, phone, or web site for interactions you didn't initiate. If you're suspicious about a request for your information, verify that the request is legitimate by calling the number on the company's website or billing statement. Almost half (48%) of all credit fraud is initiated via e-mail, so be extra careful when you log in. Also avoid sharing full birthdates, place of birth, pet's name, children's names, or names of schools attended, especially if this information is used as a clue to account passwords or security questions. Never share your mother's maiden name, Social Security number, bank account numbers, or usernames and passwords for any account, including e-mail accounts. You'll also want to keep your phone number and home address private. All this information could be collected and used by fraudsters to attempt illegal activity in your name.
‘«ů Report lost or stolen cards immediately. For extra security, consider subscribing a daily credit monitoring service. These services provide you regular updates about activity on your credit bureau and, often, identity theft insurance.
Shop With Merchants You Know and Trust
‘«ů Make sure any internet purchase is secured with encryption to protect your account information. Look for secure transaction symbols such as a lock symbol in the lower right-hand corner of your web browser, or "https://‘«™" in the address bar of the website. The "s" indicates "secured" and means the web page uses encryption. Always log off from any website after a purchase transaction is made with your credit or debit card. If you cannot log off, shut down your browser to prevent unauthorized access to your account information.
Ensure You're Protected in Case of Fraud
‘«ů Check with your financial institution to ensure you're covered if funds are removed from your account without your authorization. Typically, customers are responsible for protecting their password and account information and for providing their financial institution with prompt notification of an unauthorized transaction.
To learn more about credit fraud prevention and more, visit: https://www.wellsfargo.com/es/financial-education/credit-management/ or www.elfuturoentusmanos.org.