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The holiday season is a time for joy and celebration, but it also brings a heightened risk of scams and fraud. By being aware of the common tactics used by scammers and taking proactive steps to protect your personal and financial information, you can enjoy a safer holiday experience. Here are six tips that can help protect your personal information and finances.

1. Don’t Click On Links In Emails

Emails are a common tool for scammers, especially during the holiday season. Unsuspecting individuals might receive emails that appear to be from reputable sources, such as their bank or popular retailers. These emails may contain links to phishing websites designed to steal personal and financial information. 

Always avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails. Instead, if you receive an email from what seems to be a trusted source, it is safer to visit the official website directly by typing the URL into your browser. This practice significantly reduces the risk of falling prey to email phishing scams.

2. Don’t Log In or Shop On Public WiFi

Public WiFi networks, while convenient, are often unsecured, making them a hotspot for digital theft. When you log in to accounts or shop online using public WiFi, your sensitive information, such as credit card numbers and login credentials, can be easily intercepted by scammers. To safeguard your personal data, avoid conducting financial transactions or logging into accounts on public networks. 

If you need to use a public WiFi network, you can use a reputable virtual private network (VPN) provider for an added layer of security. A VPN encrypts your internet connection, making it more difficult for third parties to access your information. For more information about how to safeguard your personal information online, visit InterBank’s Fraud Information Center.

3. Be Careful of Lookalike Sites And Amazing Deals

Scammers often create websites that mimic legitimate retailers to trick consumers into divulging their personal and financial information. These lookalike sites can be convincing, often offering amazing deals that seem too good to be true. To avoid falling victim to these scams, carefully examine the website’s URL and look for signs of authenticity, such as secure “https” connections and verified security certificates. 

Be skeptical of deals that offer high-demand products at significantly lower prices, as these are often bait used by scammers to attract victims. If a deal seems just a bit too enticing, exercise caution.

4. Beware Scammers Impersonating Family and Friends

Another common tactic used by scammers is impersonating family members or friends in distress. These fraudsters often contact their targets, claiming to be a relative in need of urgent financial assistance. The emotional nature of these appeals can cloud judgment, leading to hasty decisions. If you receive such a call or message, take a moment to verify the identity of the individual by contacting them through a known and trusted number. Be cautious of requests for immediate financial help, especially if it involves sending money through unconventional means.

5. Check for Credit Card Skimmers at ATMs and Gas Stations

Credit card skimmers are devices illicitly installed on ATMs and gas station pumps to steal card information. These skimmers can be hard to detect, but taking a few moments to examine the card reader can save you from becoming a victim of fraud. Look for signs of tampering or unusual attachments on the card slot. If something seems off, it’s better to use a different machine or pay inside. If your information was stolen, regularly checking your bank statements can help you catch any unauthorized transactions early on.

6. Watch Out For Strange Payment Methods

Be cautious of transactions that require payment through unconventional methods. Scammers often ask for payment via wire transfers, prepaid cards, or cryptocurrencies, as these methods are harder to trace and offer less protection to the buyer. Legitimate businesses usually accept standard payment methods like credit cards, which provide fraud protection. If you encounter a request for an unusual payment method, consider it a red flag and proceed cautiously.

The holiday season should be a time of happiness and celebration, not a period of worry over potential financial scams. As your banking partner, we are here to support you with secure banking solutions and advice to navigate the festive season with confidence and peace of mind. For more information on our security features or to open an account, visit our Personal Checking & Savings page.