It’s the holiday season again, and that means you’re making transactions in stores, online, and with retailers and vendors that you may not otherwise do business with. This increased diversity in spending, along with the modern trend of moving more and more purchases to internet-based retailers, can create risk and add stress to your financial life. At Popular Direct, we strive to help you make good financial decisions, and today we’d like to take a moment to talk about protecting your privacy.
While it’s true that Popular Direct customers don’t typically use our savings or CD accounts directly for holiday purchases, we’re invested in protecting your overall financial well-being. In that spirit, here are three tips for protecting yourself while making financial transactions this holiday season.
Ensure websites are trustworthy before providing your personal and financial information
For our first tip, we’re recommending that you only provide personal and financial information such as debit card numbers, your name, and your address, to retailers that appear trustworthy. Trustworthy online retailers have privacy policies for you to review that describe how your data will be handled and protected during the transaction.
Be cautious of websites that have poor grammar or otherwise appear illegitimate. Online retailers need to earn your trust, so be wary of how they present themselves. When in doubt, look for online recommendations about a site before making a transaction there.
Be aware of phishing email red flags
For our second tip, let’s focus on email. We’ve all received messages trying to trick us into sending money to fraudsters promising great rewards if we do. However, email is also used for legitimate purposes. Many retailers will email you with transaction receipts and communications regarding your purchases. These are valuable records for you to keep.
However, scammers know that too. In fact, it is common for scammers to ask you for financial information to send items, process returns, or even invite you to purchase a gift card in order to win prizes during the holiday season - all of which they will attempt to mix in with your legitimate emails. These types of email are called “phishing” emails and they are designed to get you to give your account information to fraudulent third parties. Stay alert and don’t be fooled!
Avoid paying with personal checks
Our last tip pertains to physical retailers. When purchasing items in stores, especially smaller specialty shops, we recommend paying with cash or a credit card instead of a physical check. Physical checks contain routing numbers and information that can be used by identity thieves to make transactions against your account.