Financial Tips

Fraud Prevention Holiday Survival Guide

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – especially for fraudsters! During the holidays, people are flocking online and to the stores to make purchases, and they are also getting scammed. Fremont Bank would like to equip you with information to help protect your personal information so you can focus on other things like decking the halls and making spirits bright.

Black Friday beware

What to look for: Malicious websites that appear in results when you search for things like “Black Friday.”

What to do: Go directly to a retailer’s website and use their site search to find what you’re looking for, instead of using search engines.

Be extra-careful when shopping online this time of year. If you enjoy searching for steals and deals, keep in mind that hackers are lying in wait for you, like Ebenezer Scrooge. They create malicious websites that appear in results when you search for things like “Black Friday,” and they can be indistinguishable from legitimate online shopping sites. Just opening one of these fake pages could plant a virus on your computer that could steal your financial information, passwords, and data.

While Santa’s helpers are looking to get the best deals out there, it’s important to remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. To find deals securely, go directly to the retailer’s website and use their site search to find what you’re looking for, instead of using Google, Yahoo, Bing, or other search engines. When you’re ready to check out, make sure the website is secure by looking for security markers and only enter your credit card number if you’re certain the website is legitimate.

Do you hear what I hear?

What to look for: Links in emails, texts or websites that appear legit, but are, in fact, set up to deliver your personal information to a thief.

What to do: Hover over links before clicking to ensure that the URL goes to a trusted website. Or use Google to verify the site's domain before clicking a link.

Others among the major sources of fraud are text messages, emails, and phone calls. These communications often look and sound like they are coming from a legitimate company, but are, in fact, set up to deliver your personal information to a thief who can use it to make fraudulent purchases.

Be very aware whenever you click a link in an email or online. If possible, hover over links with your mouse before clicking to ensure that the URL goes to a trusted website. You can also use Google to verify the site's domain before clicking a link. Popular holiday phishing scams include missed delivery notifications, fake order tracking, and surprise refunds or gifts. If the link doesn’t look right, don’t click it.

‘Tis the season of giving

What to look for: Charities that aren’t known or are well known, but the website is a fake.

What to do: Don’t give your financial information to telephone solicitors. Call the organization instead, or go directly to their official website to make a donation.

You might feel extra-charitable during the holidays. Just make sure you are giving to a reputable organization. Charity scams function in a number of different ways. Sometimes it’s a charity that is not known, and sometimes it’s well-known, but the scam is operating a fake website. You may be approached by people collecting money for charity on the street, or by phone, text, or email.

These scammers are definitely on the naughty list, taking advantage of your generosity. To help ensure that you’re donating to the authentic charity, don’t give your financial information to telephone solicitors. Spread holiday cheer by calling the organization, or going directly to their official website to make a donation.

Make a list, check it twice

Sometimes you can’t avoid unwrapping scams, like credit and debit card database breaches that make national news. Fortunately, Fremont Bank takes extra precautions if we know that our clients have been affected by one of these wide-scale breaches. We close their debit cards and reissue new ones.

Still wondering how you can avoid the Grinch this holiday season? Here are our top 5 tips to stay protected from holiday fraud:

  1. Set up online or mobile banking alerts to keep track of your purchases and catch anything that looks suspicious.
  2. Keep an eye on bank and credit statements for unauthorized charges, and report any fraudulent purchases to your financial institution immediately.
  3. Never give out credit card numbers or sensitive information to an inbound caller. Only give out this information when you have made the call and are speaking with someone you trust.
  4. Use strong passwords on your online accounts, and don't use the same password across multiple accounts.
  5. Only shop online on sites or stores that you know and trust.

Closing Thoughts

Don’t let the fraudsters dampen your holiday spirit. Use common sense and employ these proactive measures to help keep your personal information safe and secure. May you have a joyous holiday season and avoid becoming a victim of fraud.