It wasn’t that long ago that Black Friday was a holiday unto itself. Moms (and Dads) would load up early in the morning and hit the big box stores and mall to snatch up the bargains before they were gone. It wasn’t unusual for a shopper or two to get into “it” over some scarce, highly desired gift.
We’re not saying that won’t happen this year … but holiday shopping has changed a lot in the past five years. Last year, shoppers spent more than half of their holiday budget online. This year, the growth in online sales is expected continue, with a twist: As much as 40 percent of online sales will be done on a mobile phone.
According to Forbes magazine, nearly 60 percent of those smartphone purchases are made while working. The other things we’re doing while shopping our phones: browsing in real-world stores (and comparing prices), cooking dinner, taking care of household chores, dining out, exercising, and running errands.
Mobile technology has revolutionized shopping, no doubt. It’s also opened up new avenues for trouble, especially for those who are shopping while distracted. The scammers are out there, watching YOU and waiting for their opportunity!
Whether you’re shopping online or instore, the people at the University of Kentucky Federal Credit Union want you to have a safe holiday shopping season. They offer the following recommendations to help keep your holiday shopping safe, secure and happy:
• Make sure your smartphone has the latest operating system installed. This will help ensure you have the most up-to-date security.
• Use your smartphone’s facial recognition, fingerprint identification, or password protection to keep your personal information secure should your phone be lost or stolen. Set your phone to lock as quickly as possible when not in use. If you haven’t
already, install Find my iPhone / Find my Device apps to help you locate your phone or erase it remotely if needed.
• Stick to trusted sources for your apps such as Google Play or the Apple App store. Before you download any app, read user reviews and do some investigation. You want to know that the app you’re installing on your phone won’t secretly collect your personal information.
• When completing online purchases, before you enter any personal information, be sure to check the website address. Only enter your info if the first part of the URL reads “https://” The S means the page is encrypted and your information is safe.
• Keep any confirmation emails you receive so you can track your purchases should they not arrive as expected.
• When shopping online in public, be aware of your surroundings. Protect your passwords, credit card numbers, and CVV numbers from prying eyes (and smartphone cameras).
• Avoid public Wi-Fi. Your information can be snatched up as it travels over these unsecured networks.
• Use a different password for every site. Change them every two or three months. If a store where you’ve shopped has been hacked, change your password immediately!
• Only shop at websites you trust. Look carefully at the URL to ensure you are at the “real” site. Tell-tale cues are poor spelling, poor grammar, or brand logos that look “off.”
• Whether you’re sitting at your computer or standing in the middle of the mall, be careful about where you click. Links in emails can take you to spoofed sites and trick you into entering personal information.
• Beware of the email or pop-up advising you that you’ve won a $500 gift card to some online store as a thank you for your loyalty. Remember the old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This one is definitely a scam.
• Should something go wrong despite all of your precautions, be sure to report the problem immediately to the financial institution that issued your card.
If your holiday shopping takes you to world of bricks and mortar, remember the basics:
• Be aware of what’s going on around you. We love our smartphones … and so do those who are out to steal from us. Distraction works to their advantage.
• Lock your vehicle and hide your valuables in the trunk or other locked compartment. Walk in well-lit areas and keep your keys in your hand. Look around your vehicle before getting in.
• Shop with friends or family members – there truly is safety in numbers.
Whether you are bargain hunting online or in store, the University of Kentucky Federal Credit Union can help make all of your purchases more affordable – and rewarding. UKFCU offers extremely competitive interest rates to its members, cash back on the Visa Signature card, and no annual fee.
To learn more, visit one of our branches in Hamburg, Export, Reynolds, Beaumont, Tates Creek or at the UK Student Center. Visit us online at ukfcu.org, or give us a call at (859) 264-4200.