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Top Tips for Avoiding Holiday Scams

The h​olidays are a special time to gather with family and friends, share time-honored traditions and show our appreciation with thoughtful gifts. Unfortunately, it's also the “most wonderful time of year" for scammers looking to steal victims' personal and financial information. Scammers know it's easy for people to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays and let their guard down. That's why it's so important to stay vigilant and protect yourself against fraud this time of year!

To make sure the scammers don't put a damper on your festivities, follow these tips to avoid the risk of fraud during the holiday season: 

#1: Think before you click.

Watch out for emails or social media ads from unfamiliar retailers promoting special sales, deals and discounts that seem too good to be true. Clicking the links in these messages could take you to a website designed to capture your information or sell you low-quality, knock-off products. Scammers can also create “copycat" websites that look similar to a legitimate retailer's site. Hover over links before clicking on them to make sure they're taking you to the right site. When in doubt, type the website's URL directly into the address bar instead of clicking on a link.

#2: Use a credit card for online transactions.

Credit cards are recommended for online shopping because they offer more fraud protection than debit cards or gift cards. Try to stick with one credit card for holiday shopping, which will make it easier to keep track of your purchases and identify unauthorized transactions. Another tip is to avoid storing your credit card information on shopping websites or apps. This will provide protection if your device is stolen or lost, or if your account is hacked.

#3: Stay alert when shopping in public.

Online scams aren't the only type of fraud to watch for during the busy holiday shopping season. If you're planning to shop in-store, remember to stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. Keep your wallet or purse close to you, and don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet. Likewise, avoid leaving valuables — such as shopping bags or wrapped gifts — visible in your parked car when visiting multiple locations.

While you're out shopping, avoid using free, public Wi-Fi to access online banking or check your email. Connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi can make your personal and financial data vulnerable to cybercriminals looking to collect your data or download malware onto your device.

#4: Monitor your account activity.

It's always a good idea to keep a close eye on your financial accounts, especially during the holidays when you may be doing more spending than usual. The sooner you spot suspicious activity or fraud, the sooner you can report it and take steps to correct it.

Wright-Patt Credit Union's (WPCU) Mobile and Online Banking makes it quick and easy to monitor your accounts and make sure all your transactions are legitimate. If you notice anything unusual on any of your WPCU accounts, contact us immediately so your account can be blocked from additional unauthorized transactions.

#5: Give wisely.

The last few weeks of the year are a popular time to spread holiday cheer and donate to charitable organizations. However, it's important to make sure your donations are going to the right place. If you're approached by an unfamiliar organization, do some research before making a donation. You can verify if a charity is legitimate on a website like BBB's or CharityNavigator. A responsible charity won't rush you to make a donation right away — this is something scammers do.

Have a Fraud-Free Holiday and a Cyber-Safe New Year!

Wright-Patt Credit Union is here to help you protect your personal and financial information and avoid becoming a victim of fraud during the holiday season and all year round!

For more helpful fraud prevention tips, tools and resources, visit our Fraud Prevention page. Happy Holidays!