The holidays may look different for a lot of us this year. You may be doing more online shopping than in years past, and we wanted to show you ways you can protect yourself from scams and virtual predators during the holiday season. Online sales are expected to rise by 25% over last year. For some that may be conservative.

Many retailers are offering their “Black Friday” deals before the shopping holiday. Getting in on early deals could help you save some major moolah. But it is always a good idea to sit down with a budget and a list.

After a long time of buying “experience” gifts like travel, concerts, and entertainment, experts are saying they expect consumers will return to the “gift giving basics.” With the potential of an extended pandemic into 2021, we may not look to Disney World or even local concerts and theatre this year. New toys and electronics (looking to upgrade your Zoom life?) will be some of the top gifts to give this season.

Shop and ship to a secure location!

If you are able to ship to your work location, or if you have a safe porch or someone is home at all times- this can be helpful. During the holiday season, “porch pirating” (someone who may steal packages off of the porch/from the doorway) rises with the amount of shipments coming through. If no one is home consider shipping to the office or another safe place. Many shipping companies now have lockers available for safe and secure deliveries. If you are shipping directly to your recipient, check to see where they would like their gifts sent safely!

Using official retailer apps or online retail to shop.

Mobile apps are allowing us to shop and purchase items while on the go- making our holiday shopping a breeze. But the danger can arise if we knowingly install an app laced with malicious software, or malware. Criminals will use these apps to infiltrate smartphones and do any number of things, like directing users to fraudulent premium subscription services or automatically subscribing users to expensive content providers without users consent

Protect yourself against malicious mobile apps by only downloading apps from reputable stores such as the App store, Amazon App store, Google play, etc. Some providers, such as Google Play, scan apps for malware prior to publishing them on their store.

Don’t Save your Credit Card Information Online!

While it may be convenient to store personal and payment information in your online accounts, it does come with some risk. Some retail websites may not be equipped to secure your info, which could leave your personal details and payment card data vulnerable to cyber thieves or data breaches. If a hacker accesses your favorite shopping account, it could then be easy for them to make fraudulent purchases with the credit card information you’ve saved in that account. That’s why it is best to either skip the autofill option or try using a password manager, which provides an extra layer of protection to your account info.

Consider using Apple Pay or Google Pay for a layer of protection.

Credit card fraud is a serious problem in the U.S., but using a digital wallet or app, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay can increase your transaction security. The digital wallet obscures your payment card information so the merchant sees a unique, one-time code that is only good for that purchase. So if a store employee or a hacker tries to get their hands on the store’s payment information, they wouldn’t be able to see your credit card or bank details.

Don’t click too quick on the “Too-Good-To-Be-True-Offers.”

Clicking on emails from any unknown senders and unrecognizable sellers could infect your computer with viruses and malware. Learn more about phishing scams in our other blog posts here. It is better to play it safe and delete the email than to click on an unknown link. Don’t open any attachments from individuals or businesses you don’t know or are unfamiliar with. Sometimes those special offers end up being special in a bad way.

Be careful with the information you give out.

Retailers will not ask you for your Social Security number, so don’t give it out! No shopping website will ever need that number, so if you are asked for very personal details, call the customer service line and ask whether you can provide other identifying information. Or just walk away. Find a more reputable and accommodating retailer for your holiday shopping needs.

The Holidays look different in 2020. How are you adapting to gift giving this season? Email us at mmccluskey@aagcu.org with your Holiday ideas!

Alaska Air Group Credit Union
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(206) 824-9800
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(907) 563-5335