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!