Prepare yourselves for doorbusters, big ticket markdowns, shopping carts full of toys and crowded stores. Black Friday is just about here.
And because we live in a digital world, the encore to Black Friday is the online phenomenon known as Cyber Monday. Throw in Small Business Saturday and you’re looking at an extended weekend of binge spending.
In fact, the National Retail Federation (NRF) expects sales during November and December to increase 3.6%, to $655.8 billion. And interestingly, the organization’s data shows department stores and online shopping neck and neck: 56.6% of consumers say they plan to shop at department stores this holiday season, and 56.5% say they’ll shop online.
Wherever you do your shopping this season, be extra cautious of your transactions. While you’re on a spending spree, thieves are on a spree of their own. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Stay Alert at the ATM
My #1 super-easy tip: When you’re entering your PIN, always cover your hand. It seems so “low-tech,” but sometimes the low-tech solutions are the most fool-proof. It prevents fraudulent cameras and recording devices, as well as “shoulder surfers” from capturing a critical piece of data.
Whenever possible, use an ATM that’s located inside a building, in a well-lighted area. Do a quick check of the outside for signs of tampering, and leave immediately if you see anything suspicious – with nearly three million ATMs in use around the globe, you should be able to find another one nearby.
You should also wait to count your money once you’re away from the ATM – and never throw your ATM receipt away in a trash can right next to the terminal.
ATM manufacturers like Diebold Nixdorf also routinely feature components on their ATMs designed to help keep you safe. Many self-service terminals have mirrors that can help you see if someone – like a shoulder surfer – is behind you. Take advantage of those features!
Get even more detailed tips on staying safe at the ATM in this blog.
Be Vigilant Online
Before you make any major online purchases, do your due diligence:
- Update your devices with the latest software.
- Keep it simple by designating one credit card as your online card.
- Check for the “https” at the beginning of the URL – it’s a signal that the page is secure.
- Opt to sign in to a site before you make a purchase. It’s a hassle, but it’s also an added layer of security.
- Just like you save physical receipts, save your records of every online transaction.
Safeguard Mobile Interactions
Mobile shopping comes with a few additional safety measures in addition to those I listed for online shopping. Only download apps from trusted stores like the Apple App store or Google Play, and use apps with two-factor authentication if possible. Make sure your smartphone is password protected, and avoid sending sensitive information over a public Wi-Fi network – use your cellular data instead. And DO NOT store private information like passwords on your phone.
Most of these tips shouldn’t be a surprise, but we sometimes get a little too lax over time. If it’s been awhile since you updated your smartphone, changed your passwords or used an ATM, now is the perfect time to get back up to speed.
Have more questions about keeping your information secure? Reach out to us – we’re here to help!