While I do a lot of my Christmas shopping throughout the year, some gifts, such as our gift exchange names, must necessarily wait until the busy season. I often have to drag my three kids with me on these excursions, and find myself worrying about losing them in a store or in the mall at large while I’m distracted by the craziness of it all.
Justin Hwang, Associate Vice President of Fraud Management at TD Canada Trust, says I should also be worried about someone stealing my identity. “Banks and credit card companies have security measures in place to help protect you against fraud but you are the first line of defence,” explains Hwang. He says 79% of Canadians are quite concerned about becoming a victim of fraud, and offers the following tips for holiday shoppers to avoid being a victim during this busy time of year.
- Protect your PIN – Never disclose your credit or debit card PIN (personal identification number) to anyone. No one, not even your bank should ever ask for this information. When conducting a transaction at an ATM or making a purchase, always shield the keypad when you enter your PIN.
- Ideally always keep your credit card in sight – When paying with a debit or credit card, try to keep your card in sight at all times. It takes only seconds for your card to be copied.
- Be cautious online – Phishing refers to an online scam that seeks out personal financial information through emails that appear from a legitimate source or organization. Remember, no one should ask you for your account numbers or passwords through email. If you receive a phishing e-mail, ignore it and delete it.
- Only shop online with trusted brands - A website with an address that begins with “https://” usually indicates you’re connected to a secure website. Make sure any banking or online shopping sites you use are protected in this way. Keep your antivirus and internet security software up-to-date, and ensure you have an up-to-date firewall installed too.
- Monitor your account activity regularly – Be sure to keep track of all online purchases and read your credit card and bank statements carefully as soon as they arrive. If you notice a purchase you don’t recall making, call your bank as soon as possible to verify the transaction.
If you suspect that you’ve been a victim of fraud when making a purchase at a store or using an ATM, cancel your transaction, obtain your card, and contact your financial institution immediately. When in doubt, call your bank or credit card company immediately to ensure your holidays are spent dealing with the stress of your visiting in-laws, not wasting time recovering your financial identity.
Looking for holiday inspiration? Visit the YMC Holiday Guide to find everything from sweet treats and delicious dishes to DIY décor and favourite family movies. If it’s holiday related, you’ll find it here.