Fabulous Frugal Finds

Tips to Avoid Being Grinched by Fraud This Christmas

We’re in the home stretch, friends! Christmas is just a few short days away and chances are you – like me – still have some last-minute things to take care of before the holidays. I start my shopping early (I’m a deal-hunter year-round) but inevitably, I am in a store in the last few days before Christmas putting the finishing touches on my gifting.

My credit card has certainly seen some action this month, and I’m regularly reviewing it not only to keep myself on track with my holiday spending, but also to ensure there’s no surprises or unauthorized charges. I’m not alone in the paranoia – a recent survey by Capital One Canada reveals that over three-quarters of Canadians (78%) believe the holidays are a riskier time to shop. As well, 32 per cent of Canadians said identity theft and financial fraud are their number one concern throughout the holiday season – surpassing their fear of spending too much.

Knowing those statistics, I was surprised to learn from the same survey that almost half of Canadians (44%) stated they will not use an online tool to protect themselves against holiday fraud! Yikes! So, I wondered – is it that Canadians are lazy about their financial security or is it that they don’t really know what to do or use to help? I think it’s the latter.

We can all tighten up our own financial security, or sharpen our attention in this area just a little bit more, especially at this time of the year. Here are some tips from Capital One to think about:

  • Take advantage of the services provided by your credit issuers (it’s as easy as looking at your online banking to see what tools are available). Things like Two-Way Fraud Alerts and Credit Keeper are services worth checking into.
  • Vigilantly monitor your bills. Ensure there are no weird charges you didn’t make, or that you weren’t double-billed on the same transaction. Another thing to watch for are auto-renewals of services you’re not even using because the company has your credit card info and you forgot to actually cancel your subscription.
  • Always protect your PIN when shopping in-store.
  • Only make online purchases from trusted websites. If you see an Instagram or Facebook ad for a product, also take a moment to read the comments – often times you’ll learn the product isn’t great quality, shipping is ridiculous or the product simply never arrives after ordering.
  • Be suspicious of emails or phone calls asking you for your personal information. Never give your credit card details, SIN, pin number or other personal information when you get a call asking for them. You can always visit the business the caller is claiming to be from, or call that business back using a number found on your bill or company website to discuss further.

If you discover something odd on your credit card bill or discover that your information has been compromised, the first thing you should do is contact your bank or credit card issuer. In many cases, Canadians have zero liability policies, meaning you will not be held responsible for fraudulent charges. Next, you should cancel your card and change your PIN/password. It’s also a good idea to update the passwords you use for your banking and credit card accounts in case you believe that information could have also been compromised. Consider using tools such as Capital One’s Credit Keeper!

While taking a few extra steps can be just another thing to add to your list this busy holiday season, it’s certainly worthwhile. While taking fraud prevention steps can feel like another task on an already busy list this holiday season, it can save you heaps of work later if you’re actually defrauded. You’ll thank yourself for your brilliance and savvy financial ninja moves and can look ahead to 2019 knowing you’ve got this!

56 Comments

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  • I am super-paranoid about fraud if someone calls wanting personal info. Identity theft happened to a friend and it took him just over 2 YEARS to get things finally sorted out. It was a nightmare!

  • Good advice. I confess to not checking my credit card statement as often as I should. I do check my current account fairly regularly.

  • It’s sad how many people fall for these scammers, at least my mother will send me a message or a link to see if it’s save, and I’m thankful for that, I would hate if she got scammed, these scammers need to get a life and leave innocent people alone!

  • Great reminder!! I always review my credit card statement but it’s even more important to do so during this time of the year.

  • Thanks very much for summarizing these helpful steps that we need to take to protect ourselves from fraud. It’s a very real threat and we all need to be vigilant.

  • It definitely seems that thefts and phishing schemes seem to amp up this time of year. I keep getting ones from the CRA lately …the fake CRA anyway.

  • These are good reminders because it is convenient to use online but scary how easily fraud can happen as everything is purchased anonymously

  • thanks for the great tips!! I know I have to keep reminding my mom about different fraudulent things as she got caught up in one once!

  • All too often there is a new scam; through a phone call, through email, and now I’m even getting them by text. We have to be so careful, but those tricksters are artists; such smooth talkers.

  • I try to be as careful as possible – always good to have some tips and reminders because this could certainly ruin your holidays!!!

  • It seems like to matter what security is put in place the crooks are one step ahead in trying to get your information or use your credit. This is a good reminder to watch for it!

  • I try to be very aware of the risks of fraud and identity theft. Thieves are so quick at coming up with new ways to steal personal information. We always have to try to be one step ahead. These tips are great.

  • I got an email from my bank telling me an unauthorized charge had been made on amazon…apparently if you have a cc on amazon they will just charge you for prime…HELLO , if I wanted prime I’d sign up…I tend to buy my books on indigo but had bought on amazon in oct because I had won an amazon credit …so, I took off all the cc’s and had to telephone amazon to get this charge reversed..not impressed
    always check your statements

  • I try to check my bank account online daily. I did find fraudulent transactions early this month. I was able to contact the bank and the issue was resolved.

  • It’s fine to be trusting….but we always need to be aware that someone out their is trying to feed themselves and using fraud is their method so being a little extra careful all the time really pays off.

  • You have to be so careful these days. I am always checking to make sure that none of our important bills/mail has disappeared each month.

  • Great post! I have definitely monitored my CC statements to look for anything amiss!

    I try to ONLY use Paypal when shopping online for that added security feature

  • Taking your time is the best advice – read reviews, comparison shop. If it seems too good to be true maybe it isn’t what it seems!

  • I am not a paranoid person but it never hurts to take a couple steps to protect yourself and your family. Thanks for the great tips.

  • I try to be very meticulous about going through my bills & statements. And I like the tip about trusted sites. My daughter often finds places on Instagram she wants to buy from that are simply “too good to be true”. Read the reviews & sure enough, they are scams. So we gotta be vigilant about informing our kids, too.

  • It’s things like this that make me hold back using my credit cards on the regular but it’s inevitable during the holidays so these are great tips to keep in mind when doing so.

  • I’ve had my credit card compromised in the past. Visa was really good about it so I didn’t lose any money but it meant a new card and paperwork. I carefully watch what I do these days. Thanks for the tips!

  • I have fraud alerts set up on my credit card. I get a text letting me know of a suspicious charge and then can confirm whether or not it was me. Great peace of mind.

  • Great post. I check my credit cards often. I won’t mention names, but I’m actually very frustrated with my current credit card company for changing the layout of their website. The new layout makes it very hard to keep track of charges (you can only see 5 transactions on the screen at once, and it takes up the entire computer screen.)

    Oh, and since we were tweeting about it a few days ago, I was also charged twice for an item at a local store! Have to go back tomorrow!

    Another tip that I just learned about while Christmas shopping: You can get wallets that protect your credit cards from being scanned by fraudsters (RFID-Blocking wallets… got a sleeve type one for my mom, who has a bad habit of carrying her credit card loose in her pocket).

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