Consumers are increasingly using online shopping solutions, recognizing the simplicity and convenience, among health and safety benefits. As you begin your holiday shopping, stay on guard with strategies to avoid the most prevalent phishing scams. Keep your long-term financial goals a priority with tips for budgeting, creative gift ideas, tools to track spending and additional resources for navigating the holiday shopping season.
With Covid-19 continuing to impact many areas of the country, it’s certain this holiday season will look different than in years past. According to 2020 Deloitte holiday retail survey, nearly 51% of holiday shoppers feel anxious about shopping in-store due to the pandemic. In the interest of health, safety and convenience, many consumers will complete their holiday shopping from the comfort of their own homes, or even forgo the in-person shopping experience altogether.
Although holiday shopping can be stressful, especially amid a pandemic, there are ways you can stay safe and secure while focusing on your long-term financial goals.
Online shopping? Stay on guard against fraud
The popularity of online shopping has already risen in recent years, with the Covid-19 pandemic escalating consumer preferences for digital solutions. ACI Worldwide revealed a projected 27 percent increase in global eCommerce transactions over the holiday period from October 2020 through December 2020. 73% of Deloitte’s survey participants plan to use online delivery solutions versus 62% last year, and the adoption of curbside pickup has more than doubled from last year. Besides the obvious priorities of health and safety, consumers are recognizing and appreciating the convenience of online shopping, including easy price comparison and free delivery options.
Besides convenience and peace of mind, it’s important to be aware of other implications of online shopping, including instances of fraud. Here are some recommendations for protecting your personal information this holiday season.
Recognize and avoid phishing scams
A phishing scam is designed to trick victims into sharing confidential information with a seemingly trusted source. Typically, phishing scams will prompt victims to click a fraudulent link or hand personal information to someone impersonating a legitimate organization. Visit our Security Tips page for more information on ways to protect your information from scammers.
Know your merchants
Verify the reputation of the company or seller. A reputable seller will include information such as a mailing address, phone number and detailed item description in an easy-to-find location. Fraudulent sites may offer lower prices to draw in consumers. If something appears too good to be true, it probably is.
Look for ‘https’
The “s” in “https” in a website’s URL stands for secure and indicates that communication with the webpage is encrypted. Also check that the website has security features that will encrypt your information as it’s being transferred to the seller’s database. You may see a small padlock appear on your browser indicating the transaction is secure.
Update your devices
Keep the operating system and application software secure by updating or patching all your computers and mobile devices. Check to see that your anti-virus/anti-spyware software is running and receiving automatic updates.
Use strong passwords
Choose a password that includes letters, numbers, special characters and upper- and lower-case letters and try to use a unique password for every site.
Avoid public Wi-Fi
Never use an unsecured network to shop, and that includes in your home. If you don’t have a password-protected network for your home, get one.
Stay focused on your long-term financial goals
Although online holiday shopping is on the rise, consumers, on average, plan to spend less on gifts than in 2019. According to a Gallup poll, American consumers plan to spend an average of $805 on Christmas gifts this season – significantly below last year’s average of $942. Consumers may plan to scale back for several reasons including the economic uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
The 2019 Bankrate Holiday Gifting survey states that more than 50 percent of those surveyed felt pressure to overspend on holiday gifts. Perhaps uncertainty around the economy or job market has prompted you to take an honest look at your finances. Or maybe the pandemic has propelled you into a saving mindset, despite unchanged financial circumstances. Here are a few ideas to keep your holiday spending in check.
Make a budget
It’s important to keep long-term financial goals on track during periods of increased spending like the holidays. While you might have a budget for your overall finances, consider creating a budget for your specific holiday shopping needs too. Determine what you want to spend in advance of shopping for each friend and family member to avoid impulse purchases.
Creative gift giving can be a smart way to save money during the holidays. Consider less expensive but meaningful gifts like a family heirloom or homemade gift. If you’re not the crafty type, think of a service or experience gift that your loved one will appreciate. Does your family member or friend have an interest in a community cause or charity? Many charities have specific holiday initiatives to help those in need.
Track your spending
There are many tools available to help you stay on track with your holiday budget. If you use the MyJFG Online and Mobile Banking Solution, you can also set up alerts on your mobile device to efficiently track money coming in and out of your accounts and monitor for potential fraudulent activity.
Consider setting up a separate savings account to jumpstart your funds for these near term purchases. Utilizing a separate savings accounts can help you avoid temptations to spend this money prematurely.
It may be tempting to leave holiday shopping to the last minute. Not only can this result in increased stress, but procrastination can lead to paying higher prices, including extra shipping costs to ensure gifts arrive in time. When you shop early, you can take more time to make thoughtful decisions that fit within your budget.
- Contactless payments – Learn how mobile payment options like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Click to pay options can make you shopping more secure and convenient.