The holiday season is in full swing. The decorations are out, the lights are being hung and gift shopping has begun. While it’s always a good idea to take precautions to protect yourself from fraud, it’s especially important during the busy holiday season. Add these simple tips to your list to help avoid becoming a victim of fraud and stay safe.
Monitor your accounts often: it’s the first line of defense in stopping fraud. At a minimum, you should review transaction activity weekly to make sure everything is accurate. Online Banking and Mobile Banking are great tools to monitor your finances. They provide 24/7 secure access to your accounts so you can check your activity anywhere, anytime.
Consider notification tools: most banks offer some type of alerts for things such as low balances or large transactions. These tools can provide additional monitoring for an extra layer of protection. At Howard, we offer Real-Time Account Alerts, which allows you to set up customized alerts to receive via email, text, or through online banking, and Manage My Cards, providing you the ability to turn your debit card “on and off” and establish transaction controls and limits.
Be cautious at ATMs: stay alert and be aware of your surroundings when making an ATM transaction. Distracted customers make easier targets for criminals. ATM tampering can be hard to detect, but if the card reader appears altered or even if something “doesn’t feel right” you should cancel your transaction and alert branch personnel or store owner.
Share travel plans with the bank: If you’re traveling during the holidays make sure your bank knows. This will help your financial institution more accurately detect unusual activity. You can submit travel notifications online at HowardBank.com.
If fraud should happen: report any unauthorized transactions immediately to avoid additional losses. Keep a record of all fraudulent activity in case you need to provide documentation to your financial institution.
To stay up to date on recent scams and how to recognize warning signs, visit the FTC website and browse by date or topic: www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts.
Shop safely this holiday season, and most importantly enjoy the time spent with family and friends. Happy holidays to all!
Diane Griffitts is the Vice President, Fraud and Product Support Manager at Howard Bank.