As we approach the holiday season, fraudsters are expected to use advanced technologies to exploit consumers’ information, as revealed in Visa’s Holiday Edition Threats Report. 

With an increase in consumer spending, threat actors are taking advantage of consumers who let their guard down in search of the perfect gift for their loved ones. 

Visa’s data showed an 11% increase in fraud rates during the 2022 holiday season.

Here are Visa’s 10 habits for good security hygiene to help consumers shop safely – not just during the holiday season, but year-round:

  1. Only shop from trusted and secure websites: Look for “https” in the URL and a padlock symbol in the browser bar. These symbols indicate that the website is secure and uses encryption to protect your data.
  2. Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true: Scammers often lure victims with incredible deals. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  3. Be cautious with emails and messages: Phishing scams are common during the holiday season. Never click on links in unsolicited emails or messages. Always verify with the sender directly through their customer service line or mobile app before providing any personal information.
  4. Always Check Details in the OTP Message: Before entering the OTP, verify the purpose of the OTP (e.g., is it for a purchase or issuance of a device token) and review the purchase details such as the merchant’s name, and transaction amount. Finally, you should not be disclosing your OTPs over the phone, email, or messenger.
  5. Keep your devices and software updated: Regular updates often include security patches that protect against new threats. Make sure your devices and software are up to date.
  6. Use strong and unique passwords and enable 2FA: Each of your online accounts should have a unique password and enable with a two-factor authentication (2FA) to make it more challenging for fraudsters to access.
  7. Monitor your bank and credit card statements: Regularly check your statements for any unauthorized transactions and enable transaction alerts. If you see anything suspicious, report it immediately.
  8. Be wary of fake charities: Scammers often take advantage of the holiday season to set up fake charities. Always research a charity before donating. Use resources like Charity Navigator to help ensure your goodwill is going to a good cause.
  9. Protect your personal information: Never provide personal information unless it’s necessary. Be wary of any requests for personal information –even if the message claims to be from a friend or family member.
  10. Avoid shopping on public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi networks are often unsecured and can be a target for hackers. It’s safer to shop from a secure home network or use a VPN.

Eva Ngigi-Sarwari