With the holidays right around the corner, it’s the season to give back, give thanks—and give gifts! And with all those wish lists to cross off, your holiday shopping is sure to give your credit card a workout. Here’s the bad news: For credit card thieves, the holiday season truly is the most wonderful time of the year. See how you can protect yourself from becoming a yuletide victim.
- Get an EMV Chip Card
Make sure your card is equipped with advanced EMV chip technology, like Suffolk Federal’s MasterCard® Credit Card. The chip uses dynamic data that’s difficult to replicate or counterfeit for enhanced fraud monitoring. These cards are harder to replicate than those with a magnetic strip, but are just as easy to use.
- Don’t Fall for Phishing
A difficult tactic to identify, “phishing” is when someone attempts to get your account information by posing as a company via phone, email, or mail. Many people are especially vulnerable during the holidays when they’re more likely to give to charitable foundations. If you are contacted by an organization, do your research before providing any financial details. Even if they contact you via phone and the number matches the number publicly listed, they may have “spoofed” it to appear more legitimate. Avoid this by only donating when you personally dial the number.
- Read Before You Sign
If you’re paying and the amount is wrong or not listed on the bill, do not sign it, even if the clerk assures you. If there are blank spaces that can be filled in later, like a tip, write the word “none” or, if you tip with cash, “cash.” Often, dishonest people turn dashes or “$0” into different amounts.
- Watch Out for Skimming
“Skimmers” are devices that read your card’s magnetic strip to copy the details to transfer them to a blank card to make charges on your account. Gas stations are easy targets for these types of fraud because many don’t have chip readers, but you may also be vulnerable when you use common point-of-sale machines at restaurants and retail stores. Check for signs of tampering, like different materials, colors, graphics, or loose parts before using these machines.
- Act Quickly
Unfortunately, fraud happens. Even if you take every precaution, someone may still access your card’s information. If that happens, contact your financial institution as soon as possible so they can put a hold on your card and ensure you are not financially responsible for charges they made.
Make it through your holiday shopping fraud-free: Only use cards with EMV chip technology, be wary of who you provide financial or personal information to, pay attention to your receipts, and check machines for signs that a skimmer has been installed. The best way to get true peace of mind is to only carry credit cards with features that offer you greater control, like Suffolk Federal’s Card Lock™, which enables spending limits and gives you the power to “lock” and “unlock” your card yourself. Avoid becoming a victim of credit card fraud by taking control of your security today.