Your Guide to Secure Holiday Shopping

The holidays can be a very exciting time as you get in the spirit of the season and shop for those closest to you. However, many criminals utilize the increase in shopping as an opportunity to steal financial information from unsuspecting consumers. Follow our guide to ensure your holiday spirits stay high and your bank accounts stay secure. In addition to the information below, there are also four simple steps you can take all year round to protect your finances which we covered in a previous blog.  

1. Frequently Monitor Your Account

Since fraudulent transactions are especially prevalent during the holiday shopping season, it’s a best practice to frequently review the transactions in your account. You can easily monitor your account activity by using online or mobile banking. Pioneer also offers Card Controls & Alerts as a convenient feature to keep your accounts secure. Within our app you can turn your Pioneer debit card on and off at will, enable notifications for activity, set spending limits and more! Find out how Pioneer’s innovative product features help you stay in control of your finances by visiting our Account Features page.

2. Only Shop on Secure Websites

When shopping online, you should only submit your financial information and make purchases on websites that have the lock icon in the URL. This indicates that the website is secured with a digital certificate. Seeing that icon means that any information you input will be encrypted and sent only to the site you are on, keeping it from being intercepted. If you enter your financial information on an unsecured site, you risk it being intercepted and exploited.

3. Avoid Shopping on Public Wi-Fi

At first, free and accessible internet in public may seem like a gift. However, using it makes you vulnerable to attacks from hackers. Since the internet access is not password secured, it makes it very easy for your personal information to be stolen, or for malicious software to be installed on your devices. So, avoid the temptation of free public internet, and stick to shopping online at home or using your cellular data.

4. Clear Your Browser’s Cache & Don’t Store Financial Information

Once you’re done shopping online, it’s not a bad idea to clear your cache and cookies. This will remove any stored financial information you may have entered while shopping.

While looking for gifts online and making purchases, you may notice that most browsers and merchants offer the option to save your credit card or financial information for quick checkout. This may seem like a convenient option, but it also comes with an increased risk. Hackers have easier access to your card information if they access your browser, and there is a slim chance merchants may accidentally charge your card on file. When in doubt, skip saving your financial information and clear your cache after any purchases.

5. Securely Store Your Receipts

Since a lot of spending goes on during the holidays, smaller fraudulent charges can easily get lost in the all the other spending. Keeping track of your receipts makes it easy to match against your bank statement and identify fraud. For this reason, consider taking photos or tracking your receipts somewhere that simplifies tracking your holiday expenses.

Hanging on to your receipts also has a few additional benefits. It’s an unfortunate truth, but there is always the possibility that someone may not be happy with the gift they receive. Storing your receipts will make returns easier. Also, with tax time just around the corner, saving the receipts will also make it easier to identify your taxable and non-taxable purchases in the future and claim your possible deductions.

We hope this guide helps you secure your finances during the holiday season so you can focus on spreading cheer and finding the perfect gift for the ones you love! If you’re looking for help managing your holiday spending, we have a tracker sheet available on our website to help with budgeting.

The material provided on this website is intended for informational purposes only. Links to other web sites are provided for reference and do not constitute a referral or endorsement by Pioneer or its affiliates. Please note that such material is not updated regularly and that some of the information may not be current. It is recommended that you consult with a financial professional for assistance regarding the information contained herein.