Online Holiday Shopping Tips

If the weather outside is frightful (or if you’re just looking to save some time), online shopping is the way to go for your holiday purchases. The advOnline shopping safetyantages to the online marketplace are many: no lines, no crowds and no multi-store trips to find that one specific toy. As you zoom from Amazon to Etsy and back again, here are some tips to make your holiday shopping as productive and safe as possible:

  • Protect your data

The holiday shopping season always comes with a host of horror stories about identity theft, so when you log on, make sure you take the proper steps to keep your information safe. Shop only through sites you trust and always check that the site is secure. Secure sites typically have URLs that being with “https” instead of “http” on any page where you’re entering card information. Additionally, you should always see a lock icon somewhere in your browser window when you’re on a secure page.

  • Choose credit

When it comes to checkout time, it’s better to use a credit card rather than a debit card for online purchases. Credit cards tend to have a higher level of fraud protection than debit cards, and you are not liable for debt incurred after a credit card is reported lost or stolen. On the other hand, if your debit card information is compromised, your entire bank account balance could be at risk.

  • Keep track of those receipts

Have a designated place (either a physical folder or folder in your email inbox) to keep track of your receipts, payment confirmations and tracking numbers for your purchases. Always be sure to read the fine print with respect to returns; different vendors’ policies will differ where returns and exchanges are concerned.

  • Buy items together to save on shipping

The one obvious downside to online shopping is the cost of shipping. Depending on the site and the shipping option you choose, a reasonably priced item could easily become one that causes you to hesitate at the checkout page. Sites like Amazon offer you the option to bundle items together and ship them in the fewest boxes possible to save you money, and may also offer free shipping when you spend a certain dollar amount. Plan out your shopping in advance to maximize your transactions on each site—it will help you take advantage of these benefits and keep your shipping costs low.

  • Check the dates

Speaking of shipping, pay close attention to the estimated shipping times on your purchases and make sure to leave enough time for things to arrive. Most sites will provide you with a tracking number for your package once it’s shipped.

Remember: Identity theft increases around the holidays, so take extra care when shopping online. Here are some additional safe shopping tips from Webroot.com.

Don’t Let the Grinch Steal Your Identity—Seven Tips for Safe Holiday Shopping

While you may be dreaming of a white Christmas, an iIdentityTheftdentity thief may be dreaming of stealing your identity. With higher traffic both in stores and online on retail websites around the holidays, identity theft is known to increase during this time of year. As you prepare to start your holiday shopping, here are a few tips to keep your identity safe:

-When you shop, carry only the cards you plan to use. Keeping some of your cards separate could help minimize the damage if your wallet is stolen.

-Know where your cards are at all times. Shopping in stores around the holidays can be stressful, and it can be easy to lose track of your card when you’re rushing. Make sure your card makes it safely back into your wallet after each transaction, and keep your wallet close.

-Check for evidence of tampering before you use an ATM to obtain cash. Glue and overlays on the card reader are common indicators of tampering. Trust your instincts; if you suspect a machine has been tampered with, consider withdrawing cash somewhere else. Also, remember to protect your PIN from anyone who may try to read it over your shoulder when you’re using an ATM machine or POS terminal.

-Monitor your account activity through online banking and check your monthly statements closely. Your shopping patterns are likely to change around the holidays, which means it’s important to check your statements even more closely than usual to ensure that there are no fraudulent charges. Hold on to your receipts to help you verify your transactions, and contact your financial institution or card provider immediately if you see a charge that you did not make.

-Make sure you’re securely shopping online. If you’re shopping online, make sure your computer has the most up-to-date antivirus software, and that you’re only giving out credit card information on authenticated sites. You can tell whether a site is secure by looking for the prefix “https” before the web address, or a green bar around your search bar when you go to checkout.

-Keep yourself up to date on any large-scale data breaches that occur. Large retail data breaches are becoming more and more commonplace, and it’s impossible to know when the next one will be, or which store will be affected. If a data breach occurs at a store you frequent, be proactive: call or check the store’s website for specific information, and if the situation warrants it, cancel your card and request a new one from your financial institution. Some retailers may offer free credit monitoring services for a limited time after a large-scale breach, but it’s also a good idea to consider making those kinds of services a permanent part of your defense against identity theft.

-Hold off on that social media post. While cyber-crime is a growing threat, you should also protect yourself from the threat of burglary. Refrain from sharing your holiday travel plans with your entire social network; letting the world know you’ll be on vacation for a week could give a prospective burglar a golden opportunity to break into your home.

For more tips on staying safe during your holiday shopping, check out this article from the Washington Post.

 

7 Tips for Protecting Yourself Online

Though the internet has many advantages, it can also make users vulneSecurity Button On Keyboardrable to fraud, identity theft and other scams. According to a Norton Cybercrime Report, 556 million adults worldwide were victims of cybercrime in 2012. The American Bankers Association recommends the following tips to keep you safe online:

1. Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.

2. Set strong passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

3. Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with.

  • Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at spam@uce.gov – and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email.

4. Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.

5. Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it.

6. Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.

7. Read the site’s privacy policies. Though long and complex, privacy policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects. If you don’t see or understand a site’s privacy policy, consider doing business elsewhere.

Lessons You Can Learn from Recent Data Breaches

Identity theft in word tag cloudIn recent months, several major data breaches have made headlines. Large-scale retailers like Target, The Home Depot, Neiman Marcus and Michael’s have been targeted, leaving hundreds of thousands of pieces of customer information vulnerable.

With a number of recent compromises, you may be wondering if your information will ever be safe. While it’s impossible to know exactly when the next data breach will strike, here are a few lessons you can learn from recent ones to help keep your private information as secure as possible:

A data breach could happen anywhere, anytime and affect anyone.

The fact is, you can be as careful as possible and still fall victim to a data breach if you use your debit or credit card to shop. Identity thieves are growing more sophisticated in their tactics, using complex malware to compromise point of sale terminals, as seen in the Target and the Home Depot incidents. A safe alternative is to use cash when you shop, so no identifying information is used to process the transaction.

It’s important to be proactive.

It is more critical than ever to carefully monitor your monthly statements for your debit and credit cards. Review each transaction and contact your financial institution immediately if you suspect a fraudulent charge. When shopping online, always use a credit card over a debit card, as they are not directly linked to a bank account.

Create unique passwords and logins.

It seems like every website involves a username and password, and while it’s tempting to use the same one over and over, doing so could greatly increase the scope of damage if your identity is stolen. Recent breaches, including the Russian hacking incident, are suspected to have affected billions of username and password combinations. Using the same login information across several websites (e.g. your financial institutions, credit cards, online shopping accounts) could make it easier for thieves to strike multiple places.

Get identity protection services.

In the unpredictable digital world we live in, you can take steps to safeguard your identity by signing up for identity protection services. Community Bank offers ID Restoration Services through Deluxe Provent, a completely customizable suite of monitoring services that will not only help you keep your identity safe, but will also assist you if you find your personal information has been compromised.

At Community Bank, your security is always our priority. Click here for updates on current data breaches and more information on how we are working to keep your information safe and secure.

Six Tips for Protecting Your Identity

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country, affecting over 12.6 million people annually. In light of the many recent data breaches that have compromised personal information, it is more important than ever to take steps to actively protect yourself from having your identity stolen.

This month, Community Bank of the Chesapeake will be focusing on providing tips, tools and solutions to help you keep your identity safe and secure. To start, here are some useful steps you can take to keep your personal information just that — personal.

1.  Protect your Social Security number at all costs!

Your Social Security number is one of the most valuable pieces of personal information you have, so be sure to take every precaution to safeguard it! Never carry your social security card in your wallet, and only give it out when absolutely necessary. Consider keeping it in a safe deposit box with other vital records until it is needed.

  1. Review your credit report annually.

You are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) each year. An annual review of your credit report will not only help you to ensure that you’re where you need to be credit-wise, it will allow you to see if there have been any fraudulent uses of credit in your name. Contact the issuing credit bureau immediately if you notice a discrepancy of fraudulent activity on your report.

  1. Avoid over-sharing (on social media, that is).

We live in the age where personal information in all too easy to find, courtesy of social media. Be judicious about the kind of information you share with the public and remember that anything you post on the Internet is there to stay. Keep the kinds of information that would be needed to complete a credit application (i.e. home address, mother’s maiden name, date of birth, etc.) off of your Facebook wall or Twitter feed. And if you’re planning a trip, wait until you come back to post about your out-of-town plans; announcing your home will be left unattended can provide a prospective burglar with a golden opportunity.

  1. Pick strong passwords.

Having a different password for each account you have may seem like a hassle, but it can go a long way to protect you. Secure everything — your phone, personal computer, tablet — with a strong password comprised of a combination of numbers, letters and special characters. Never give your password out, and change them immediately if you suspect they have been compromised.

  1. Check your statements carefully.

Diligently reviewing your monthly bank and credit card statements can help you stop ID thieves in their tracks before they can cause catastrophic damage. If you notice a fraudulent charge on your statement, notify your financial institution immediately. Online banking helps make this even easier, as you can often review charges posted to your account instantly, so you can check several times a week.

  1. Be cautious when shopping online

Online shopping is incredibly convenient, but can also be an ideal place for identity thieves to strike. Be sure that the sites you’re using are secured whenever you’re entering billing information. You can authenticate a website’s security certificate for checking that the web address has a green bar around it, or a lock icon next to it. When shopping online, use a credit card instead of a debit card; with a credit card, you are significantly less liable for fraudulent charges, while a debit card compromise could leave your entire bank account at risk.

Don’t wait for disaster to strike—take the steps to protect your personal information today. Check out these suggestions from Deluxe Provent, and talk with your branch manager about how Community Bank’s ID Restoration Service can help you. Visit your local branch or visit our website to enroll today.

Staying Safe on the Move

Job opportunities, proximity to loved ones, milder temperatures or a simple change of scenery. Whatever the reason behind your next move, if it requires tHome Buyinghe help of a moving company, be sure and do your homework before packing up your bags. Unfortunately, there are a number of fraudsters looking to take advantage of consumers in their hurried and hectic state.

Moving fraud

Moving fraud can take many forms – whether theft, ransom, unscrupulous pricing practices or clever, sub-contractor swindling operations. What’s worse is that these unlicensed companies and scam artists are growing in number. http://www.bbb.org/us/article/moving-scams-still-a-problem-for-many-41632

Proper precautions

Before bringing in a company to give you a hand with your haul, simply begin by asking your friends and neighbors for any recommendations. Try accruing a list of four to five companies to ensure a competitive price. If you’re still in need of additional options, take to your favorite search engine. Once you build your list of four or five companies, click on over to consumer review site Yelp to find out what others may think. Finish your preliminary search by checking for any complaints on file with the Better Business Bureau.

You’ll want to call each business to verify the information on the company website and to arrange an on-site estimate at your residence. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/moving-scams-5-tips-to-avoid-moving-fraud/ Upon arrival, go over the details and don’t be afraid to ask any and all questions you may have with the agreement. Lastly, ask for a copy of “Your Right and Responsibilities When You Move,” a document which you are entitled to receive from the company by law. http://www.movingscam.com/articles/how-to-find-a-reputable-moving-company

In addition to these precautions, the Department of Transportation maintains a list of moving company red flags, https://www.protectyourmove.gov/consumer/awareness/protect/red-flags.htm while ProtectYourMove.gov https://www.protectyourmove.gov/consumer/awareness/checklist/movingchecklist.htm is home a to a handy checklist with everything you need to know from planning right through to moving day.

Recourse

If you suspect a scam call the police immediately. And victims of moving fraud are encouraged to file an official complaint with the National Consumer Complaint Database http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov/ to assist in the investigation and help prevent the same company from committing similar crimes against others in the future.

Look Before You Give: Beware of Charity Scams and Solicitations

There’s a great feeling that comes with giving back, and contributing to help others. And with advances in technology over the past few years, giving to your favorite charity, organization, or cause is now easier and more convenient than ever. But technology has also brought a negative side to charitable giving – it can turn your generosity and kindness into an opportunity for fraudsters to take your hard-earned money.

So how can you protect yourself from becoming a victim of charitable fraud? The Federal Trade Commission offers these tips:

Watch for red flags. While fraudsters have become more sophisticated and use a variety of methods to solicit funds by phone, mail, or online, there are some warning signs to look out for. Beware of organizations that –

• Request cash-only donations.

• Fail to provide information on their organization, including their mission and how your donations will be used.

• Cannot provide proof that your donations are tax-deductible.

• Pressure you to make donations.

• Ask you to wire money or express unnecessary immediacy in receiving funds.

Do your homework. Take these simple steps before you dish out any money or provide your credit card number to anyone:

• Get the full legal name of the organization and conduct an Internet search using the company name and words like “scam,” “fraud” or “complaint.”

• Call the charity to verify that the request for donation is legitimate. This will protect you in the event that a fraudster calls you or sends you an email pretending to be from a reputable charity.

• Contact the National Association of State Charity Officials to see if the charity is registered with a state.

• Find out the percentage of your funds that will go to the actual cause or fundraiser.

• Visit the Internal Revenue Service to see if your contributions are tax-deductible. Note there is a difference between an organization being tax-exempt versus offering tax-deductibility on contributions. Tax exempt simply means the organization doesn’t have to pay taxes.

Be a smart giver. Once you’ve verified the organization is legitimate, take these steps to protect yourself:

• Never send cash. It’s much safer and easier report contributions if you pay by check or credit card.

• Keep track of all your donations.

• Set aside a charitable budget to ensure you don’t give away more than you can afford.

Give back by reporting any scams If you think you’ve been a victim of charity fraud, take a moment to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. That simple step will help you give back by ensuring other innocent donors aren’t victimized

7 Ways to Keep Your Credit in Check

Keeping your credit in checkWhether you’re looking to obtain your first credit card, purchase a car, or even buy a second home, at one point or another in your life, you will need to borrow. To be able to borrow affordably you’ll also need a strong credit report. A credit report is the tool that lenders use to determine whether to grant you a loan and the interest rate to offer you. Continue reading

5 Tips for Online Shopping Safety

Online Shopping SafetyIt’s quickly becoming one of the most popular ways for consumers to shop for goods and services. It doesn’t require you to purchase gas, wait in long lines, or even comb your hair. And thanks to advances in technology, you can now do it right from your phone. It’s online shopping. And while it’s definitely the easiest, most convenient way to shop, it does present some risks. Here are some tips on how to protect yourself: Continue reading