Holiday Scam Checklist

It’s that time of year again, the lights have been strung and the malls are packed with people looking for the perfect gift for their friends and loved ones. It’s a busy time for everyone, including criminals who take advantage of unsuspecting people during this festive season. From holiday scams to fake online retailers, consumers need to be alert to keep their money and personal information safe this holiday season.

Banks have multiple layers of security to protect your financial transactions and your personal information, whether you’re making a purchase in a store or online or using a debit card, credit card, cheque or cash, and Canadians recognize this. In fact, a recent survey done for Advertising Standards Canada found that 80 per cent of Canadians trust banks to look after their personal data and use it wisely.

Make sure you’re safe this holiday season by following the checklist below.

Beware of Scams

As the saying goes "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is". Around the holiday season there are a lot of promotions and incentives to get people to buy, and while some of them may seem legitimate, sometimes they're not.

Dangerous E-Cards
Many people are turning to the Internet for their holiday needs and sending e-cards to everyone on their list. While they are a fun way of sending best wishes, they can also be dangerous if you are unsure of who the sender is or if you haven’t heard of the company that produces the e-cards. If an e-card isn’t legitimate, you may end up downloading a virus or malware on your computer when you click on links in the card. According to the Greeting Card Association, a legitimate e-card notification will always include the full name or personal e-mail address of the sender and will never ask you for personal or financial information. If you are unsure about the e-card, never click on the link and always delete the email right away.

Social Media Scams
Although social media can be a great way to keep in contact with friends and family during this holiday season, you need to be wary of phony contests and people pretending to be friends or family members asking you to send them money for the holidays. It is also important to remember to keep your personal information safe and do not share credit card or banking details with anyone. And do not disclose if you will be away for the holidays; you never know who may see that you won’t be home.

Fake Charities
Criminals know that many people donate to charities during the holiday season, so make sure that your donation is going to a legitimate charity. Fake charities often use names that are very close to the name of a legitimate charity to convince you to give them money. If you are unsure of whether the charity is fake or not, always do your research. You can contact the charity directly to confirm information using publicly available contact information, not that provided by the "charity". You can also visit the Canada Revenue Agency's website where they have a searchable list of registered Canadian charities that you can check.

Shop Online Safely

The Internet has made holiday shopping more convenient for shoppers, who no longer have to brave the cold and long line-ups to find great gifts. However, when shopping online there are some scams and dangers that you should be aware of.

Secure Connection
Always make sure you are using a secure connection when inputting personal information or banking details on a website. To make sure that you are using a secure connection, look for a closed padlock located in your browser or at the bottom of your web page or a website address that read https:// rather than http:// (the 's' stands for secure).

Reputable Dealers
When doing a transaction online, make sure that you are dealing with a reputable dealer that runs a reputable site. Reputable companies will only asking for your personal details once a transaction has been initiated. Do not click on any links or ‘deals’ that may direct you to an unsafe website. Sometimes if the deal sounds too good to be true, it could be criminals trying to gain access to your personal financial information.

Computer Protection
Make sure that your anti-virus, anti-spam and anti-spyware software is up-to-date and that you have a firewall to protect yourself from online scammers. Also have different passwords for your online accounts to prevent any personal information from being compromised.

In-Store Shopping Tips

While shopping online can save on line-ups and crowds, some people still like to venture out to malls for a touch of holiday spirit. Since holiday shopping can be very busy and hectic, it is always important to be alert and make sure that you keep your information safe.

Protect your PIN
It is very important to protect your Personal Identification Number (PIN) when using your credit or debit card this holiday season. Never share it with anyone, never write it down and always have different PINs for different cards. It is important to use your hand or body as a shield when inputting your PIN on a keypad and if anything seems unusual an ABM or merchant terminal, don’t use it and report the situation to police or your financial institution.

Lost or Stolen Cards
In the flurry of holiday shopping you may forget to remove your card from the terminal, or have your wallet stolen. Make sure to report any lost or stolen debit or credit cards straight away by contacting your local branch. You should also check your bank account on a regular basis to make sure that no unusual transactions have been made (this should be done all year round). If you see any suspicious activity, report it to your branch immediately. And, if you had your credit or debit card to a retailer to make a purchase, make sure it is your card when they hand it back.

Learn More

By being aware of some of these scams and knowing how to protect yourself, you should be able to have a safe and happy holiday season.

For more fraud prevention tipsl please visit the Fraud and Security section of the Canadian Bankers Association website.


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