Holiday shopping, traveling or hosting family and friends, and decorating the house -- we’ve all got plenty to do as the holidays approach. And it may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be stressful. Unfortunately, all of the excitement can also mean we need to work a little harder to ensure we stay safe.
Here are five tips for keeping yourself, your family, and your home safe this holiday season.
1. Closely Monitor Your Finances
Keeping a close eye on your accounts can be a big step toward ensuring your finances are secure this holiday season. And it turns out that, depending on your personal situation, monitoring your accounts may be easier than you think.
If you already have a checking account with digital banking, like at Armed Forces Bank, you already have access to your personal finances right at your fingertips. It’s on your mobile phone, tablet or your computer through digital banking. Digital banking is free -- and it’s easy after you learn your way around.
Consider these tips for keeping a close watch when it comes to your finances:
- Use Digital Banking and account alerts with push notifications, as well as email or text alerts to monitor your account balances and account activity.
- If you have made any recent deposits, please keep in mind that deposits are subject to verification and may not be unavailable for immediate withdrawal.
- Don’t forget to consider any pending items such as checks you've written that have not reached the bank or pre-authorized ACH debits that have not yet posted to your account.
What if you do find suspicious activity on your account? It’s almost always easier to reverse it when you catch it as soon as possible.
2. Protect Yourself When Shopping
Some people prefer online shopping, but plenty of people will venture out to stores to do their shopping in-person this year. And while the risk of financial scam is lower when shopping in store, there are other risks to look out for.
For example, shopping with children can be tricky. They can be easily distracted in stores by a new toy of colorful holiday display, meaning they may wander off without you knowing. If it’s possible, leaving them at home with another family member or trusted friend may be the safest option. But if you’re shopping with children, make sure to have a plan if you and your children are separated: a meeting place in the store, or ensuring they know to find a store employee for help.
Other habits can also help make your shopping experience safer. Shopping before it gets dark can help deter crime, as can shopping with other family members or friends. Keep your wallet and valuables close to you in order to deter thieves or pickpockets. Ensure your phone is charged in case of emergency.
3. Watch Out for Cybercriminals
While it‘s important to stay secure in your online purchases all year long, you should be extra vigilant during the holiday season as you may make more digital transactions. Cybercriminals continue to find new ways to scam online shoppers.
Americans lost more than $145 million in 2020 to coronavirus-related fraud. And more than 80% of online consumers reported losing money to online purchase scams since the pandemic began.
But remember: online scams aren’t as scary when you know what to look out for. At Armed Forces Bank, we’re committed to helping you learn to spot those scams. This can give you more layers of protection for your online accounts. By helping our valued clients become pros at spotting phishing scams, we can stop bank impostors in their tracks.
These steps can keep you safe when it comes to your personal and/or financial information:
- Always think twice before clicking
- Monitor your accounts frequently for suspicious activity
- Always create strong and unique login IDs and passwords
- Know the best practices for wire transfers or use alternate options like Zelle® through Digital Banking for sending money
4. Keep Your Home Safe
Outdoor decorations are a fun symbol of holiday spirit, but criminals may see it as something different: an opportunity. These displays -- indoor or outside -- may give off an impression of wealth, which could leave you a target for thieves.
Locking your windows and doors when leaving the house can make a big difference. And if you’re going to be away for a few days or more, set your lights on a timer, pause your mail/newspaper delivery, and ask a friend or neighbor to check on your home while you’re gone.
Even if you’re staying in town, porch pirates may be on the lookout for holiday deliveries they can swipe from you. Remember: some criminals may even pose as package delivery services, so be cautious and remind your children not to open the door to strangers -- not even the mailman.
5. Minimize the Risk of Fire
Delicious food cooking in a warm kitchen, Christmas trees and menorahs, and roaring fireplaces -- there’s not much better during the holidays. But all of these can pose fire hazards and should be carefully watched in order to keep everyone, and your home, safe.
Be careful not to leave candles or other open flames unattended, especially around children or pets. Be sure to dispose of wrapping paper in a way that it can’t catch on fire from a stray spark. And old Christmas lights can be damaged or fray, which could catch your real or artificial tree on fire.
Armed Forces Bank Has Your Back
At Armed Forces Bank, we know the importance of safety. No matter what life throws at you, we’re committed to being your partner through it all.
We wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy holiday season.
*Mobile carrier fees may apply.