The National Retail Association reports that 164 million Americans will go shopping this Thanksgiving week, including on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and on Small Business Saturday and Sunday. All in all, the average consumer is expected to spend $967 this year.
So, whether you brave the mall, keep it local, or get caught up in the online shopping frenzy this holiday season, it’s important that you keep yourself safe from the bad guys out there.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help!
How much are you shelling out to spread that holiday cheer? Wauna Credit Union wants you to find that perfect gift, without spending yourself silly. Here are some simple guidelines:
- Make a list of people you want to buy gifts for and stick to it.
- Set a budget limit. As they say, “It’s the thought that counts.”
- Use the best credit card. As a not-for-profit cooperative, we can offer lower interest rates on credit cards than many profit-driven financial services providers.
Protect your credit cards
As a smart consumer, you can shop with confidence this holiday season. But be weary of fraudsters and scams that are all too prevalent.
- Keep a list of all your account numbers in a safe place, just in case you need to report it if one is lost or stolen.
- At the cash register, protect your PIN by blocking the keypad from view of others. We suggest resting your fingers on other keys as you enter your PIN.
- Do not use public wireless networks for online purchases.
- Use our online account monitoring service and immediately report any suspicious activity to us.
- Shop on sites with https:// in the URL, and be sure that an icon with a lock appears to the left. The “s” stands for “secure” and indicates communication with that site is encrypted.
- Type the merchant’s address directly into your browser; avoid links.
- Use complicated passwords with at least eight characters. Include numbers, special characters, and upper and lower-case numbers.
- In addition, keep the antivirus and security software updated on your computers and mobile devices.
- We also recommend that you don’t store your payment information on shopping sites or shopping apps.
- Finally, take a look at our guide concerning the Equifax breach as well. You can view it here.
Don’t let the Grinch steal the whole season either. When you go shopping, park in well-lit areas. Walk to and from the stores with your head up and be watchful. Thugs look for people who are not paying attention. Keep your keys in your hand so you can hit the panic alarm if you need to. Unfortunately, ‘tis the season for pickpockets, too. Probably a good idea to keep wallets in zipped purses and front pockets.
Compare Online Deals
What a wonderful time-saver online shopping is! We know a lot of sites will claim to have great deals, particularly on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but they may not have the lowest price. If you find something you like, do a little comparison shopping by using sites such as Google Shopping or Pricewatch.com.
Give Yourself a Gift
Invest in “you” this holiday season because hey, you deserve it. Open a new savings account, take financial education classes, or look for low interest loans to help you achieve your financial dreams this coming year. Come see us or visit us online for all of those dreamy possibilities.