Fraud Prevention Tips For The Holiday Season
Before one of the busiest shopping times of the year, Wells Fargo & Company offers tips to help consumers shop safely -- whether online, on a mobile device, or at a store.
"During the holiday season, especially, people need to know what to look out for and how to properly protect themselves," said Lisa H. Robinson, senior vice president, Head of Risk Management, Wells Fargo Internet Services Group. "By taking simple precautions, shoppers can reap significant benefits when it comes to fraud prevention."
Before heading out the door or logging on to your favorite websites, review these tips:
- Monitor purchase activity: Remember to review your account activity regularly, especially when you're busy shopping for the holidays. Enroll in mobile banking so you can view a snapshot of your accounts while on the go and monitor your purchase activity online from home. Also sign up for transaction alerts for your checking account, debit card, and credit card to receive text or e-mail notification about account activity.
- Don't over-share on social websites: During this holiday season, when using the internet for keeping in touch with friends and family as well as for making purchases, remember not to "over-share." While social media websites may encourage you to share private information, avoid sharing full birthdates, place of birth, pet’s name, children’s names, or names of schools attended, especially if this information is used as a clue to account passwords or security questions. Never share your mother’s maiden name, Social Security number, bank account numbers, or usernames and passwords for any account including e-mail accounts. You'll also want to keep your phone number and home address private. All this information could be collected and used by fraudsters to attempt illegal activity in your name.
- Be careful what you disclose: Be wary of special holiday offers or requests for personal or financial information via e-mail, text message, phone, or website for interactions you didn’t initiate. If you’re suspicious about a request for your information, verify that the request is legitimate by calling the number on the company’s website or billing statement.
- Protect your computers from malware with regular anti-virus updates: Updating anti-virus software on your computer is the first step toward protecting yourself. Remember not to download suspicious attachments or plug-ins. When making purchases, be sure the website address starts with “https.” The “s” helps ensure that your information will be passed along in a secure manner.
- Take the paperless route with online banking: The 2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report from Javelin Strategy & Research showed that some fraudsters continue to access personal and financial information the old-fashioned way -- by stealing bank or credit card statements from the mailbox. Reduce your risk of stolen mail by retrieving mail promptly and switching to online statements.
- Ensure you're protected in case of theft: Check with your financial institution to ensure you’re covered if funds are removed from your account.
- Know what to do if you lose your handbag or wallet: Take a moment to inventory or photocopy the personal and financial information you carry in your handbag or wallet, including items such as your driver’s license, bank cards, checks, and credit cards. Store your inventory list or photocopies in a secure location. This important step will help you know whom to contact if your handbag or wallet is lost or stolen.
“We encourage our customers to take advantage of Wells Fargo’s tools and services, such as alerts, mobile banking, and online banking, to monitor their accounts the way they want,” said Robinson. “No matter how people choose to shop, keep these tips in mind to help safeguard your information.”