You may be ready to treat your ‘elf — and your family — this holiday season. But if you aren’t careful with your money, this season makes it easy for scammers to treat themselves, too!
The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year. Unfortunately, they can also be the most crime-filled. According to an AARP report, three-quarters of U.S. consumers have experienced at least one form of fraud that can be tied to the holidays, such as online shopping scams or donation requests from fake charities.
As you celebrate the festive season, stay safe with these suggestions to protect yourself and your finances.
- Strengthen Your Passwords
It’s no surprise this one is on the list. You should try to update your passwords once every three months. As we enter the season of online shopping, you’ll want to ensure that you not only freshen up your passwords, but that they’re rock-solid. Online shopping makes gift giving easier, though it also gives hackers and scammers an opportunity to access your account information. Make sure your passwords are secure by making them eight characters or more in length. To make remembering them easier, try making your password a sentence and mix in other characters, such as MyD@g$Ro<ks (“My Dog Rocks”).
- Keep an Eye on Your Accounts
Scammers are out in full force this season — and believe us, seeing a fraudulent charge on your account is anything but jolly. Thankfully, regardless of whether you’re using Florida Capital Bank’s (FLCBank) personal or business accounts, we have safeguards in place to help you protect your money over the holidays. Our services can notify you the moment your debit card is swiped for a transaction. Business account owners can also create activity account alerts or set-up transactions so that you have the chance to review and approve charges before processing.
- Break Down Boxes + Shred Personal Information
Technological items such as TVs, computers and game consoles are popular gifts during the holidays. Make sure you break down boxes, especially large ones or those with images of electronics or furniture. Robbers like to peruse neighborhoods on trash days, targeting homes with recently acquired big-ticket items. Similarly, make sure you shred any documents that contain personal financial information. This includes bank statements, credit card applications, and medical documents. All it takes is for one person to dig through your trash and steal your personal information for their own gain.
- Stay on Alert
More and more online grifters are trying to steal private information using digital means, such as sending an email or text message. Sometimes, this can be promoting a potential sale or asking you to confirm a purchase or account information. Legitimate businesses will never collect sensitive information this way. If something seems suspicious, contact the company or nonprofit directly. When visiting a website, always make sure to search it through a reputable search engine — or go directly to the page. Be sure to double-check to make sure it’s a secure browser by confirming it has a “https://” before the url. (The “s” stands for “secure,” in case you didn’t know!)
- Choose Credit Over Debit
The holidays are notorious for identity theft. Using a credit card versus a debit card this holiday season may help protect your information. Electronic card skimmers and online hackers can compromise both credit and debit card information. However, since debit cards are tied directly to a checking account, any illicit activity could compromise the available funds in the account and provide hackers with more access to financial information. Canceling a credit card is also generally much easier than closing a bank account, especially if you have recurring transactions on the account.
Hopefully, these tips help you stop any Scrooges from ruining your season! And remember, FLCBank is here to help make your holidays merry and bright. We are a leader in the banking industry, focusing on solutions for financial well-being for business owners and the community.