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16 Tips for Avoiding Fraud During the Holiday Shopping Season

Whenever people are buying more, it’s an opportunity for criminals to strike, which makes this…

  • December 10, 2019

Whenever people are buying more, it’s an opportunity for criminals to strike, which makes this a dangerous time. With new scams on the increase, FICO’s fraud experts have added new tips for staying safe, taking the total to 16.

Take Care at ATMs

If an ATM looks odd, or your card doesn’t enter the machine smoothly, consider going somewhere else for your cash.

Never approach an ATM if anyone is lingering nearby. Never engage in conversations with others around an ATM. Remain in your automobile until other ATM users have left the ATM.

If your plastic card is captured inside of an ATM, call your card issuer immediately to report it. Sometimes you may think that your card was captured by the ATM when in reality it was later retrieved by a criminal who staged its capture.

Either way, you will need to arrange for a replacement card as soon as possible.

Be Safe Online

If you experience anything odd on a website, look for another place to shop. If you’ve already paid and later become suspicious that you may have been tricked, let your bank know.

Watch out for emails promising amazing bargains. Rather than click on a link in an email or SMS, go to the site itself. Hackers can even spoof websites, so make sure you’re shopping on the actual site.

If you’re setting up a new account with a website, use a strong password you haven’t used before.

If your online merchant offers enhanced security features such as step-up-authentication or soft token, please be sure to opt in.

Don’t make a direct payment to an eBay seller or other online merchant from your bank account, because you won’t be protected in case the promised goods don’t arrive.

Check Your Purchases

Check your card transactions frequently, using online banking and your monthly statement.

Work with Your Financial Institutions

If your financial institution offers enhanced security features such as step-up-authentication OR soft token, please be sure to opt in.

Update your address and cell phone information for every card you have, so that you can be reached if there is ever a critical situation that requires your immediate attention.

Ask your card provider if they offer account alert technology that will deliver SMS text communications or emails to you in the event that fraudulent activity is suspected on your payment card.

Ask your card issuer for a new card number if you suspect that your payment card may have been compromised. It’s important to change both your card number and your PIN whenever you experience a potential theft of your personal information.

Watch Out for Social Engineering

If you get a call from someone who says they’re from your bank, and you feel suspicious, hang up and call your bank directly.

Your bank will never ask you for your password. Criminals know people are worried about fraud in the holidays, and may take this opportunity to try to get you to divulge information.

If you get a request to pay someone from your bank account, make sure that you know who you are paying and that their request is legitimate.

Be wary of emails or texts that tell you that there has been a change of bank account number for a person or business you are expecting to pay — if in doubt, pick up the phone and confirm that they have changed their bank account details.

Criminals are exploiting these direct payments and Faster Payments by masquerading as contractors you do business with, and if you make the payment you may be liable.

Don’t Become a Money Mule

If someone offers you money to use your bank account to transfer money through, don’t do it. This is money laundering and they are recruiting you to be a money mule.

Engaging in money laundering can have serious consequences (in the UK up to 14 years in prison) and could prevent you from having bank accounts, loans and mortgages well into the future. Make sure that you talk to your children about this trend so that they can avoid getting involved in criminal activity.

Getting Smarter in the Fight Against Fraud

The good news is that financial institutions are doing more than ever to prevent fraud. “For example, if you’re using your credit or debit card to pay online, you may be sent a one-time passcode to your mobile phone that you need to enter into the browser window,” said Matt Cox, vice president of fraud solutions for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“This extra security is a fraud prevention method intended to make sure that it’s really you making a payment. While it may seem inconvenient, you’ll be better protected if your card does fall into the hands of criminals,” Cox said.

Learn more about FICO fraud solutions at

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