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Stay Safe Shopping this Holiday Season

The holidays are a hectic time. Between seasonal gatherings, cooking and gift shopping, the season can fly by. Before you know it, you may only have weeks or days left to finish holiday shopping. Even if you’re under time constraints to find the perfect presents, it’s essential to take the time to practice safe shopping habits to avoid theft. Follow these tips for a safer holiday shopping season.

Online Shopping

These days, the accessibility of the Internet makes it much easier to shop for holiday gifts. If you will be comparing prices and buying presents online, there are a few precautions to keep in mind.

Phishing Emails

An email phishing scam attempts to steal passwords and other personal information from unsuspecting people. Unfortunately, the evolution of technology has made it easy for a scammer to send emails posing as well-known companies.

For instance, let’s say you are subscribed to Amazon’s email updates, but a fraudster copies the template. How likely are you to notice that the sender’s address is slightly altered? When you click a link within the email, malware encrypts your username, password and stored credit card information. To avoid this scam, always check the email sender is valid or enter the site URL manually in a secure web browser.

Shopping on Unsecure Sites

You see a great deal advertised on social media and decide to go through with a purchase. Although you’ve never heard of the company, you do not want to pass up on “lowest prices of the season” and “free shipping on all orders”. However, you fail to notice the website is unsecure and your credit card information is compromised by scammers who set up a fake site. Reputable e-commerce websites have “https” in their URL; be wary of “http” only.

Package Deliveries

In recent years, we have seen a spike in packages being stolen off front doorsteps. Many homeowners who make online purchases trust their boxes will be safe and sound on the porch when they arrive home, but some are unpleasantly surprised by thieves. If you are expecting a holiday gift to arrive at your home through the USPS or another delivery company, there are a few steps you can take to protect your purchases.

One, require a signature at the time of drop-off so someone must be home to receive it. Two, ask a neighbor who stays at home to bring your package inside when its delivered. Finally, forgo doorstep delivery and pick the box up at the local post office.

In-Person Shopping

Although online shopping offers convenience to many consumers, some people still prefer the traditional method of shopping in-store for gifts. Unfortunately, shoppers can display erratic behavior during the stress of the holiday season. It’s also a time for thieves to act up.

If shopping at night, travel in groups to avoid suspicious people lurking in dimly lit parking lots. Also, travel without a purse or wallet if possible. Keep money in your front pocket to avoid someone slipping into your bag or back pocket in a crowd. Lastly, if you need to stop at an ATM, choose a safe location and shield the keypad as you enter your pin. Report any solicitors who may be trying to steal PINs or cash withdrawals.

Identity theft is a life-changing experience with many challenges. We encourage everyone to take the necessary steps to safeguard their personal data and avoid this traumatic incident.

Another way to relieve holiday shopping stress: Open a Holiday Club Account with Ion Bank. Start contributing at your convenience and be ahead of the game next year. When you’re ready to spend, we’ll send you a check! For more information, please visit our Club Accounts page or give us a call at 203.729.4442.

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