The Edmond Sun

Features

November 28, 2013

Shoppers should focus on safety

EDMOND — Last year, a record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites during the Black Friday weekend, according to the National Retail Federation.

Total spending reached an estimated $59 billion. ComScore, an online business analytics provider, reported that online spending on Black Friday itself reached $1.4 billion, the heaviest spending day in history.

First Fidelity Bank in Edmond is offering the following tips for shoppers to keep their finances safe whether they make a purchase in a store or online:

• Keep track of your receipts. At the end of your shopping, compare your receipts to your online account transactions or your remaining cash. If you see a transaction on your bank statement not reflected in your receipts, contact the retailer when applicable or alert your bank to report fraudulent activity. Occasionally, retailers mistakenly apply a charge in error or double-charge an item.  

• Be aware of your surroundings. With the hordes of people crowding and pushing during holiday shopping, the environment can be ideal for someone looking to steal your belongings. Be sure to keep your purse zipped at all times or keep your wallet securely in your pocket. Do not leave personal belongings like phones and keys lying around, even while you check out. If you have a smartphone use a screen lock to protect personal data should someone get hold of your phone.

• Shop with a credit card on Cyber Monday. A major benefit to using a credit or debit card is its anti-fraud security. If your card information is stolen, your liability is limited by federal law. Be sure you are keeping track of where you use credit and debit cards online so you can be fully aware of fraudulent charges should they appear on your statement.

• Purchase from secure sites. Two signs to indicate whether or not you are making purchases on a secure site are the HTTPS (HyperText Transport Protocol Secure) before a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) and a padlock on the address bar when you get to the payment steps. Both indicators ensure the most secure purchasing process. Do your research and only shop on sites that you know and trust. If it seems like a scam, it probably is.

• Make sure your security software is up to date. By simply updating your anti-virus software, risky shopping websites can be easily avoided. As Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals come in through email, so do the scams. Never click on email that seems suspicious or too good to be true. The easiest way to catch a virus is by clicking on a bad link. Anti-virus software can also help detect and shut down viruses that come in via email.

According to the Federal Trade Commission via the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office common types of identity theft include:

• Trash diving: Thieves rummage through trash looking for bills or other documents with your personal information on them;  

• Skimming: Stealing credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card;  

• Phishing: Pretending to be financial institutions or companies and sending spam or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information;  

• Changing your address: Diverting your billing statements to another location by completing a change of address form;  

• Old-fashioned stealing: Stealing wallets, purses and mail, including bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks and tax information;  

• Pretexting: Using false pretenses to obtain personal information from financial institutions, telephone companies and other sources.

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