Opinion

‘Tis the Season for Financial Security

Public Service Announcement by Islanders Bank

Holidays bring gift buying, visits to friends and family or vacations in sunny locals to escape winter. Shopping and traveling opportunities are a great way to step out of the daily routine. Unfortunately,  travel and shopping pose a risk to financial security.

Each year consumers and businesses lose billions to identity theft and fraud. As consumers increase shopping and travel, credit and debit card use increase along with the likelihood that unscrupulous individuals come into contact with your personal financial information.

Here’s a few tips to help ensure that financial fraud doesn’t happen to you.

When you conduct a transaction with a business that you don’t know, healthy skepticism is an important first step. If your credit or debit cards leave your sight, be aware who takes the card, how long they have it and whether the individual in possession of your card has oversight.

When buying online make sure the merchant uses a secure website encrypted to ensure protection of your financial information. Look for an https:// secured website or the lock symbol on the merchant webpage to indicate strong security practices. Remember to logoff websites.

When traveling, keep your debit and credit cards secure. Don’t use cash machines that aren’t associated with a reputable hotel, business or bank. Look closely at cash machines and avoid any ATM that has loose card scanners or odd looking attachments, this can indicate skimming equipment that is used to copy your card for later use. Memorize your PIN number and don’t carry it in your wallet in the event of theft or a pick pocket. Always be conscious of your location when obtaining cash.

Pay close attention to your credit card when paying restaurant, lodging and shopping bills. Keep your receipts and closely scrutinize your bank and credit card statements as soon as possible after your trip to ensure that listed charges are correct. Report any irregularities to your card provider.

Be aware of your situation at all times, fraudsters and criminals thrive on confusion. If something seems off or you are pressured to give up your credit/debit card or personal financial information, step back and question why. Most people you meet are honest and well intentioned, financial security precautions are meant to protect us from those who are not.

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