The holidays are officially here, but before we get started, we gotta ask: which holiday camp are you in?
(A) Hooray, it’s the most wonderful time of the year!
(B) Ugh, how can I afford this time of year?
Even if you’re excited about the holidays, did you know 69% of Americans plan to take on debt to cover their costs this holiday season?1 The fraudsters, schemers, and scammers know this, too. According to the FBI, Americans lost $6.9 billion to fraudsters in 2021 alone.2 And fraudsters love this time of year because they know people are stressed and more susceptible to scams.
But we don’t want to just rain on the holiday parade–we want to give you a holiday umbrella to keep the scams at bay! So, here are 5 great tips to help you enjoy the holidays while keeping the scammers away.
1. Keep track of your budget
Keeping track of your budget can be a difficult task any time of the year, but especially around the holidays. Have you accounted for extra expenses over the next month? Does that extra spending mean sacrificing in other areas of spending? Regardless, keeping better track of your money not only means being better prepared for the season and beyond, but knowing sooner if anybody is taking advantage of your account. From now until the new year, try logging into your bank account online at least once a day, preferably at the end of the day. Then you can see how much you spent the whole day and make adjustments for tomorrow.
2. Watch out for red flags
A lot of holiday shopping has shifted online these days. Maybe you pride yourself on finding the best deals on all the internet. But a good deal is even better when it’s a safe transaction. To keep things safe, beware of the warning signs that something could be amiss. To legitimately own a website, the owner and the site itself need to be verified, as well as any systems they use for collecting payment information from you. Depending on your web browser, look to the far-left side of your browser’s address/search bar. Is there a gray icon of a closed lock there? If so, you’re good-to-go, and that site is secure. But if there’s no lock, or a bright red exclamation point instead, that site isn’t safe. Not only should you steer clear of buying anything off a site like that, but you should skedaddle as soon as possible-sites like that can still use phishing tactics and other shady techniques to try and pilfer your information.
3. Beware of data requests
Always remember that GO2bankTM, or any other bank you may use, already has your personal account information, and will never, ever call you requesting it. If GO2bank suspects a fraudulent charge or activity, we’ll notify you via text message first. We’ll never ask you to text or email us personal information back, like your account number, ATM, debit card PIN, or Social Security number. We’ll only text you transaction information that can help you accurately identify whether a transaction was legitimate or fraudulent. For example, we will notify you via fraud alert text the transaction amount, merchant, and the last 4 digits of the card number used. If anybody calls you out of the blue pretending to be your bank and asks for your birthday, your social security number, address, or other information to help them identify you, you’re dealing with a scammer. If you ever get an email or text from GO2bank and you’re unsure if it’s us, don’t click any links. Call our customer service number or the number on the back of your card to confirm.
4. Remember past experiences
You work hard for your money and deserve a great holiday season for yourself and your loved ones. Having someone take advantage of that can feel like an embarrassing, infuriating betrayal. If you’ve ever been burned on a transaction before, chances are, you remember how and why it happened. If another transaction, website, seller, phone call, or email is giving you similar vibes to the transaction that burned you in the past, listen to yourself. You can be in a festive spirit and extend good will to all while still maintaining self-protection.
5. Try giving gifts that are priceless
Sure, unwrapping a gift, or watching a friend or family member unwrap a gift is a fun, joyful experience. But an experience can also be a gift in itself. Maybe visiting with hard-to-reach family member is a gift worth more than any expensive present. Does your friend love your cooking? Make their favorite dish for the holiday! Does your family member love your artwork? Creating something one-of-a-kind for a loved one often feels more memorable than any pricey gift ever could.
Scammers and fraudsters are out there, regardless of how you’re budgeting and spending this holiday season. But we hope these tips, matched with your own instincts, help keep you and your account safe and jolly this holiday season.
The views and opinions expressed here may not represent the views and opinions of GO2bank, Green Dot Corporation, or its affiliates. It is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal, or business advice.