Tips To Protect Consumers This Holiday Shopping Season

With the busy holiday season approaching, the Pennsylvania Bankers Association (PA Bankers) is offering tips to consumers on how to protect themselves and their bank accounts while shopping for friends and family this month.

“Each year, millions of consumers fall victim to cybercrime,” said Duncan Campbell, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Bankers Association. “While banks are working hard to protect your identity and accounts this holiday season, consumers should take several precautions to ensure their financial information is secure.”

PA Bankers urges consumers to:

Keep your computers and mobile devices up-to-date in order to better defend yourself against viruses, malware and other online threats.

Set strong passwords and be sure that they include eight characters, a mix of upper-and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters.

Watch out for phishing scams, and do not click on unfamiliar links or attachments.

Keep personal information personal, as hackers can use social media profiles to figure out passwords and security questions.

Secure your internet connection by always protecting your home wireless network with a password, and avoid sending sensitive information over public Wi-Fi networks.

Shop safely by verifying that all websites use secure technology and that you use web addresses that begin with “https.”

Read each site’s privacy policies to ensure the site will protect your personal information.

Banks spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year to prevent cybercrime through a variety of methods including:

Chip-based payment cards (also called EMV) in which the embedded microchip makes consumers’ cards difficult to counterfeit or copy;

Tokenization, a process where a separate number is generated for each card transaction preventing card account information from being passed through retail systems;

Mobile alert programs, which allow customers to quickly identify fraudulent activity; and

Neural networks, where banks are able to recognize patterns and detect fraud.

“To be truly cyber secure, we must all be consistently vigilant in our online activities and how and what we share in public venues,” Campbell continued. “With banks, employees, customers and merchants all working together, we can best fight back against cybercrime and ensure a safe transactional environment for everyone during the busy holiday season and into the future.”