It’s beginning to look like Christmas everywhere I go. Along with wreaths and sales, be aware that con artists and fraudsters may be taking advantage of increased shopping and spending to access your personal information.


Here are a few quick tips for a safer holiday shopping season:


Deals!  Be aware of online “deals” from unfamiliar sources – do not click on email links from unknown senders to avoid unknowingly downloading malware or computer viruses.


Know your seller. Research online stores or sellers prior to buying or providing payment information.


Popular holiday gifts. Be aware of scammers advertising those hard-to-find popular holiday items. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.


Secure your computer. At a minimum, have anti-virus, anti-spyware and a firewall. Turn off your computer when you’re finished shopping online.


Protect your information. Do not provide personal information online in exchange for online coupons, mystery shopping “jobs,” or social media contests.


Holiday phishing scams. Do not provide your personal or financial information in response to emails, text messages or phone calls.


Vacation scams. Don’t post holiday pictures or “tag” yourself away from home.


Physical security. Be aware of your surroundings as you shop. Park in lighted areas and have your keys in hand as you leave the store.


Monitor your accounts. Knowing how your cards and accounts are being used can prevent unauthorized usage and allow you to respond immediately to any suspicious activity. Set up free BranchLine alerts to receive email notification about activity on your account.


As always, report scams to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov or call (877) FTC-HELP.


If you suspect that you have been a victim of fraud, or your Pacific Service CU account has been compromised, immediately call a member service representative at (888) 858-6878, ext. 6353. After hours, for debit or credit card fraud, please call (800) VISA-911. We can cancel compromised cards, change your account number or add a password to your account for future transactions if it becomes necessary.


Shop safely and have fun. Happy holidays!


by Michelle, AVP, Sales & Service