Monday, December 5, 2016

Preventing Fraud this Holiday Season

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

Shopping for the holidays brings an increased risk of credit card fraud and identity theft, as hackers and other online criminals have much easier access to an abundance of transactions.  As credit cards become more prevalent than carrying money, it’s important to practice safety measures to prevent these types of instances. 
Protect yourself and your finances this season by following these tips to ensure you have a safe and worry-free holiday:

1. Avoid lending out your card: Never leave your credit cards, receipts, or statements around your home or office. When you no longer need them, shred them before throwing them away.

2. Don’t give your account number to anyone on the phone unless you’ve made the call to a company you know to be reputable. If you’ve never done business with them before, do an online search first for reviews or complaints.

3. Carry your cards separately from your wallet. It can minimize your losses if someone steals your wallet or purse. And carry only the card you need for that outing.

4. Save your receipts so that you can later compare them with your statement.

5. Open your bills promptly or check them online often and reconcile them with the purchases you’ve made.

6. Report any questionable charges to the card issuer.

7. Notify your bank if your address changes or if you plan to be traveling.

8. If you are avoiding the malls and shopping online, only order on secure web sites - To ensure your information is protected look for an unbroken key or padlock at the bottom of your web browser.

9. Beware of one of the newer credit card fraud scams known as "skimming" - Keep a close eye on your card while your purchases are being processed so that it is not swiped through alternative devices.

10. Protect your credit cards - Sign your card, and write that a merchant must "check ID" on the back of the card.

Though fraud and identity theft aren’t 100% percent avoidable, following these precautionary measures can help to lower your risk and prevent financial headaches this season.  If you do notice any suspicious activity, be sure to contact your provider immediately.  From all of us at Blais Insurance, we wish you a safe and wonderful holiday season.