The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and gift-giving, but it also comes with an increased risk when it comes to shopping. As the festive season approaches, many consumers are eager to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones. However, this surge in shopping activity also attracts a different kind of attention from criminals and scammers. Here are a few tips on how to stay safe and informed.
Crowded Stores and Parking Lots - One of the most obvious risks during the holiday season is the increased congestion in shopping areas. Crowded stores and packed parking lots can lead to accidents, frustration, and even altercations. In the rush to secure the best deals, shoppers may be more likely to experience slips and falls, vehicle collisions, and personal conflicts. Staying vigilant and patient is crucial when navigating through these congested areas.
Tip: Plan your shopping trips during off-peak hours when stores are less crowded.
Increased Online Scams- The internet has revolutionized the way we shop, but it has also opened new avenues for scammers. During the holiday season, phishing emails, fake websites, and counterfeit products become more prevalent. Cybercriminals are adept at creating convincing websites and email campaigns to steal personal and financial information.
Tip: Only shop on reputable websites, look for secure payment options, and be cautious of unsolicited emails or offers that seem too good to be true. Verify the legitimacy of online retailers before making a purchase.
Porch Piracy - Online shopping often leads to home deliveries, which can be a target for porch pirates. These thieves steal packages left unattended on doorsteps, porches, or mailboxes, especially during the holiday season when the volume of deliveries skyrockets. Porch piracy can result in lost gifts and financial losses for shoppers.
Tip: Schedule package deliveries when you are home, require signatures for deliveries, or use package lockboxes to prevent theft.
Identity Theft - Identity theft is a significant concern during the holidays. Scammers may use stolen personal information to make unauthorized purchases, open credit cards, or engage in other fraudulent activities. This can lead to severe financial and emotional distress.
Tip: Monitor your bank and credit card statements regularly for any unauthorized transactions. Use strong, unique passwords for online accounts and consider freezing your credit if you suspect your identity has been compromised.
Financial Overspending - Holiday shopping often leads to overspending, which can result in financial stress long after the festivities are over. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of gift-giving and lose track of your budget.
Tip: Set a budget for your holiday shopping and stick to it. Consider making a list of gifts and their approximate costs to help you stay on track.
While the holiday season is a wonderful time to celebrate with friends and family, it's essential to remain vigilant and informed to protect yourself from the increased risks associated with shopping during this time. Whether you're navigating crowded stores, shopping online, or dealing with porch pirates, staying alert, following safety tips, and being aware of potential risks will help ensure a safer and more enjoyable holiday shopping experience.
About Union State Bank: Founded in 1908, Union State Bank has banking locations serving communities of Arkansas City, Newton, Udall, Winfield, and Wichita in Kansas and in Bartlesville and Edmond, Oklahoma. Union State Bank offers a full range of electronic, deposit and cash management services, as well as business and agriculture, commercial real estate, construction, mortgage, residential and consumer loans. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender, NMLS# 412388