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Safety and Security this Holiday Season

Remember safety and security during the holiday shopping season, whether you are making a purchase online or in person. With the holiday season upon us here are some important tips.

Tips for Online Shopping:

  • Protect your computer – A computer should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a secure firewall.
  • Use Caution - Avoid downloading programs or opening attachments from unknown sources. 
  • Ignore pop-up messages - Set your browser to block pop-up messages. If you do receive one, click on the "X" at the top right corner of the title bar to close the pop-up message. NEVER click on a pop-up! If you are interested in what the pop-up is promoting, go to the website on your own, not through the link in the pop-up.
  • Use strong passwords - Create strong passwords for online accounts. Use at least eight characters, with numbers, special characters, and upper and lower case letters. Don’t use the same passwords for online shopping websites that you use for logging onto your home or work computer. Never share your login and/or password.
  • Do not e-mail sensitive data - Never e-mail credit card or other financial/sensitive information. E-mail is like sending a postcard and other people have the potential to read it. 
  • Select merchants carefully - Use secure websites for transactions and shopping. Shop with merchants you know and trust. Make sure Internet purchases are secured with encryption to protect your account information. Look for “secure transaction” symbols, such as a lock symbol in the lower right-hand corner of your web browser window, or “https://…” in the address bar of the website. The “s” indicates "secured" and means the web page uses encryption.
  • Keep a record - Keep a record of your online transactions, including the product description and price, the online receipt, and copies of every e-mail you send or receive from the seller. Be sure to review your credit card and bank statements for unauthorized charges.  
  • Beware of phishing - Legitimate businesses do not send e-mails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information. If a consumer receives such an e-mail, the Better Business Bureau recommends picking up the phone and calling the contact number on the website where the purchase was made, to confirm that there really is a problem with the transaction.

Tips for In Person Shopping:  

  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with checks, credit or debit cards. Carry cash and wallets in a front pocket to reduce your chances of having your pocket picked. 
  • Always carry your driver's license or identification along with necessary cash, checks and/or a credit or debit card that you expect to use.
  • Wait until asked before taking out your credit/debit card or checkbook. An enterprising thief would love to shoulder surf to get your account information.
  • Notify the card issuer immediately if your credit/debit card is lost, stolen or misused.
  • Save all receipts. Print and save all confirmations from your online purchases. Start a file folder to keep all receipts together and to help you verify credit/debit card or bank statements as they come in.
  • Let us know when and where you will be traveling, so that you will avoid any potential for fraud alerts when out-of-the-ordinary transactions are posted. 

Tips for Mobile Banking Security:
Mobile banking applications are programs you can download to your mobile device. Applications or “apps” that let you monitor your finances and conduct certain transactions are increasing in popularity.

  • To ensure the safety of your personal and account information, download mobile apps from reputable sources only.
  • For your security, sign off when you finish using a mobile banking app rather than just closing it.