10 Tips to Keep Your Accounts Secure This Holiday Season

10 Tips to Keep Your Accounts Secure This Holiday Season


Black Friday, Cyber Monday and holiday shopping in general can be exciting for those researched and ready to find the ideal gift for loved ones. However, the holiday season is also a time when cybercriminals try to take advantage of consumers looking to snag the best deals for items on their list. As you brave the frenzied crowds or click “Add to Cart” here are ten tips and best practices to keep your accounts safe this season!

1. Stay Alert and Trust Your Gut

If you receive a call or a text message about your account or card from an individual who says they represent APCO Employees Credit Union, and you are unsure about responding to it, hang up and call us at 1-800-249-APCO for assistance.

Bonus Tip: We will NEVER ask you for your full card number, your card’s expirations date, your card’s security code, your PIN, or your online banking password.

2. Don’t Click the Link

A text alert warning of suspicious activity on your Visa® card will NEVER include a link to be clicked. A valid notification will provide information about the suspect transaction and ask you to reply to the text message with answers such as ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘help’, or ‘stop’.

Bonus Tip: If you think you’ve clicked on a compromised link or provided your information to scammers, call us immediately so we can take additional steps to protect your funds.

3. Use Safer Methods for Purchases

Consider using your digital wallet instead of your physical card or typing in your card number. Digital wallets are more secure than physical cards because payments are heavily encrypted. Use Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Google Pay when you shop in-person or online this holiday season. Learn more about digital wallets in our blog post.

Bonus Tip: Add your APCO Visa Rewards Credit Card and your APCO Visa Debit Card to your digital wallet so you’re ready when it’s time to pay.

4. Avoid Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi is a great hunting ground for thieves; steer clear if you can. At the very least, avoid all online banking or password logins while using public Wi-Fi.

Bonus Tip: Secure your own home Wi-Fi with a strong and unique password.

5. Be Wary of Special Offer Emails

Cyber criminals send phishing emails designed to look like they are from retailers with whom you may regularly shop. These emails may include malicious links or ask for you to input your personal or financial information. Do not click links or download attachments unless you are confident of where they came from. If you are unsure if an email is legitimate, use your web browser to visit the retailer’s website as opposed to clicking the link.

Bonus Tip: Look for the “https” in the URL of websites you visit. Sites without the “s” are not safe to submit payment information and personal details.

6. Learn to Spot Scams

Be cautious of anyone asking you to deposit an item into your account and immediately wire or send a portion of the funds elsewhere. The scammer usually requests you to send those funds via money gram, Western Union or prepaid Visa gift cards, and deposit them into an account at another financial institution.

Bonus Tip: If a transaction, deal, or sale seems too good to be true – it is!

7. Turn on Multifactor Authentication

Multifactor Authentication means opting into an extra step when websites, devices, and apps ask you to confirm who you are with an added step after entering your username and password. We know an extra step means more time when logging into devices, accounts, and applications – but it’s an extra step worth taking.

Bonus Tip: Start with your email and financial accounts, and then move onto your social media and streaming services.

8. Know Your Merchant

Not all merchants are trustworthy, and not all advertisements are legitimate. When shopping online, take a moment to do an internet search of the merchant to look for reviews, complaints or reports of scams that may be associated with the site.

Bonus Tip: Don’t enter and store your payment information on merchant websites. Most online retailers have an option to pay using a Digital Wallet, like Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay. As we noted above, digital wallets provide an additional layer of security over entering in your card number online.

9. Give Wisely

The holidays are a time for giving, but you should never feel pressured to give on the spot, whether through email or an unsolicited phone call. When you are led to donate, never wire money, or send cash – visit the organization’s secure website and search for safer ways to make your contribution.

Bonus Tip: Research the organizations you are considering for a donation. Online resources like Charity Navigator, CharityWatch and GiveWell include valuable information about different charities and help make sure your donation does the good you intend.

10. Examine Your Financial Statements

It’s a good habit to regularly monitor your accounts and statement activity. Shred all aged documents that contain sensitive information and report any suspicious charges immediately.

Bonus Tip: Online and Mobile Banking make it easy to sign up for purchase alerts and monitor your account and credit card in real time.

APCO Employees Credit Union is committed to the safety and confidentiality of your records, but others may not be. Act and protect your personal and financial information to help ensure you’ll have a safe holiday shopping experience.

For more digital banking security tips and a list of additional things we will never ask you, visit our digital banking security page.

Digital Banking Security