Holiday shopping is in full swing. With so many consumers shopping online and at stores, Apple Federal Credit Union, which has 21 branches throughout Northern Virginia, is taking the opportunity to warn consumers about scams that could leave them vulnerable and provide tips to protect them.
“Holidays are particularly active times for scams since people are shopping and online more. It’s also just a good time of the year to review your financial safety,” says John Harwell, Associate Vice President, Risk Management, Apple Federal Credit Union. “We are providing tips and advice to help people understand the risks. No one is immune. In fact, some of the savviest tech users—those from 18-29 years old—are also likely to get duped.”
Watching for these scams and following these tips from Apple Federal Credit Union will help consumers keep their financial health intact during the holidays and beyond:
- Pocket Protectors: Holiday shopping crowds are great draws for criminals using devices to steal personal data. A great stocking stuffer this holiday season are protectors for bank and credit cards that prevent identity theft. These RFID (radio frequency identity device) protectors come as wallets or sleeves and block devices that hackers use in public places.
- Sweetheart Scams: More incidents of love and loss are on Apple’s scam list and the holidays are a prime time for this. Online daters are getting duped into cashing counterfeit checks for new found loves and then forwarding their new found loves the money, only to have the check bounce…after the cash is gone from their account. Consumers should never provide cash back to someone they only know online and never met. If in doubt, ensure a check clears before taking cash out to share with someone.
- Job Jokers: Similar to Sweetheart Scams, many anecdotes are surfacing—including from several unsuspecting Apple customers—about job scams. People are receiving virtual job offers and “the employer” provides a “paycheck” for services totaling more than the “paycheck” amount and asks the “employee” to return the difference by wiring the money back. This all happens before the check is caught as fraudulent, leaving the new employee out of cash and a job. Ask the right questions and remember that real employers will have newly hired employees fill out tax forms. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
- Card Control: Services like CardValet® are a great way for consumers to protect their bank accounts. Most credit and debit cards can now temporarily be turned “on” and “off” right from a cell phone app. Debit and credit card accounts can be set up to notify users via text alerts if a card gets used or if suspicious activity occurs. The alerts can be customized based on individual user’s preference. These are especially great services to use during the holidays.
- Account Vigilance: Consumers should monitor their accounts. Being vigilant in checking activity in bank and credit card accounts will help catch fraudulent activities early. Use the holiday season to change account passwords. Set a different password for bank accounts, incorporating a combination of letters, symbols and numbers, and avoid names of pets and anniversary and birth dates for your passwords. With so many recent data breaches, hackers have many older passwords for consumers so using brand new ones is important.
To learn more, visit www.AppleFCU.org/HolidaySecurityTips.
About Apple Federal Credit Union
Established in 1956, Apple FCU is ranked as a top 100 credit union nationwide, serving nearly 220,000 members with $2.9 billion in assets. As a not-for-profit, member-owned financial cooperative, Apple FCU serves a diverse community of local education systems and anyone who lives or works in Fairfax, Frederick (VA) and Prince William counties. Members enjoy competitive rates, as well as fair and honest products and services, within a trusted environment. The Credit Union is fully committed to making a positive impact within the region, not only in financial services, but also in community involvement, financial literacy and charitable giving. AppleFCU.org. Federally insured by NCUA. Equal Opportunity Lender.