Stay (Financially) Safe This Holiday Season
Here are tips to protect yourself (and your finances) from fraud this holiday season
As the holiday shopping season heats up, consumers begin buying gifts and donating to charities. Many people are so busy with shopping and festivities they don’t take that extra minute to scrutinize a text or email link that appears to come from a store or delivery service. Or they fail to notice a few fraudulent charges among the higher volume of transactions on their bank or card statement.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers reported losing more than $1.9 billion to fraud in 2019, with nearly $667 million lost to imposter scams alone.
The losses are likely much higher because scams are often under-reported, experts have said. This year, with the added challenges of Covid-related scams and government relief scams, you will need to be more vigilant than ever.
Below are some tips to help keep you and your business financially safe.
Monitor your accounts
While you should monitor your bank and credit card balance(s) on a regular basis, it’s especially important to check them during the holidays. Make sure all transactions listed were made by you or any authorized users on your account.
If you notice any suspicious transactions on your Prime Meridian Bank account(s), please contact us as soon as possible so we can research or take action needed to protect your account.
Contact your credit card company directly if you notice suspicious activity.
Be wary of online advertisements
Double check the URL to make sure the spelling is correct, that the URL begins with “https” and that there is a small lock icon which confirms it’s a secure site.
Secure your information
If you want to do some online shopping from your phone while out in public, make sure not to leave any personal information easily visible, since someone can easily peer over your shoulder and access your data.
Watch out for spam phone calls or texts
There has been an uptick in spam calls and texts this time of year as fraudsters try to gain access to your personal information.
Do not fall for phone calls where the caller asks for your card details. If you did not initiate the call, you won’t know whether or not it’s legit.
If you receive a call from someone who says they are calling from Prime Meridian Bank, and it feels suspicious, hang up and call us directly at (850) 907-2300.
Criminals know people are worried about fraud during the holidays and may take this opportunity to try to get you to divulge information.
A general rule of thumb is never to provide your social security number over the phone if you didn’t initiate the call.
- Watch out for phishing scams. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with, and NEVER give your password, account number or PIN to anyone.
- Remember that the safest place for your money is in the bank—it’s physically secure and it’s federally insured.
- Do some research before making a donation. Be wary of any business, charity or individual requesting COVID-19-related payments or donations in cash, by wire transfer, gift card or through the mail.
- Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware and other online threats.
- Learn to recognize and avoid bogus website links. Hover over suspicious links to view the actual URL you are being routed to. Fraudulent links are often disguised by simple changes such as www.ABC-Bank.com vs ABC_Bank.com.
- Change your security settings to enable multi-factor authentication for accounts that support it. Multi-factor authentication—or MFA—is a second step to verify who you are, like a text with a code.
- Help others by reporting scams. Visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov to report suspected or confirmed scams.
Best Practices to Protect Your Business from Fraud
Corporate account takeover is a type of fraud where thieves gain access to a business’ finances to make unauthorized transactions, including transferring funds from the company, creating and adding new fake employees to payroll, and stealing sensitive customer information that may not be recoverable. Follow these tips to keep your small business safe.
- Protect your online environment. Do not use unprotected internet connections.
- Partner with us to prevent unauthorized transactions. Talk to us about programs that safeguard you from unauthorized transactions. Positive Pay, Secure Tokens, additional account passwords, etc.
- Pay attention to suspicious activity and react quickly. Look out for unexplained account or network activity, pop ups, and suspicious emails. If detected, immediately contact us.
For more details and recommendations on how to protect yourself from fraud, please visit our Client Protection Resources section.