How to avoid account fraud this holiday season

When the online holiday shopping season ramps up, so do criminals’ attempts to steal your credit or debit card data. The ongoing pandemic has made in-store shopping less appealing and extended the online shopping season. This year, watch out for these three online scams: account takeovers, curbside pickup fraud and e-gift card schemes.

Protect your cards when shopping online

Financial or retail account takeovers happen when payment details are stolen while making purchases online with your cards, or your reward points and credits are stolen then used by the thieves to buy other goods and services.

Reduce the chances of online fraud and do not store your card in a retail site. That’s where thieves look for your data. Instead, use a mobile wallet app or look for the Visa Secure badge at online merchants when shopping. Mobile wallets replace your actual card number during checkout with a one-time-use number which keeps you safer. For added protection, sign up for our security alerts to be notified immediately about any high-risk transaction.

Buy online, pickup in store

Curbside pickup is a great way to stay safe during the pandemic and a convenient way to shop. Unfortunately, while your online transactions might remain safe, the in-person portion of the transaction is where fraud could occur. With more retailers offering this service, criminals are taking advantage of loose, in-person steps to verify your identity. As retailers adapt to new ways of doing business, be aware of this current weakness and plan accordingly.

E-gift card schemes are bolder

In a new take on electronic gift card (e-gift card) fraud, thieves use stolen credit card data to buy gift cards in bulk or to break into retail systems to steal batches of gift card numbers.

Make sure you’re the only one benefitting from the gift. Register the card as soon as you receive it. Change the PIN and try to use the card right away. This way a scammer has limited opportunities to steal your gift card number from a retailer’s system. Also, if you haven’t used your e-gift card, but notice your card balance is zero, contact the card issuer immediately.

Use timeless methods to stay safe online

These tips can help you have a safe, online shopping experience anytime:

  • Create unique, strong passwords across online retail sites.
  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) when available. 2FA requires an extra step before checking out but offers an extra layer of protection. A fraudster is unlikely to have access to both your password and your device.
  • Use a password manager app. It not only securely stores your passwords, but may also autofill store discount codes.
  • Be aware of phishing attempts via fake apps and websites.
  • Keep your device firewalls on and web browsers up to date.

These types of attempts to steal your financial information will likely continue beyond the holiday season and the current pandemic. Stay extra vigilant during the holidays and remember LGFCU is a phone call away. If you suspect you are victim of account fraud, call us at 888.732.8562.

The advice provided is for informational purposes only.

Share this article: