The holidays can be such a wonderful time, allowing us to show our love and appreciation for those important to us!  It’s exciting to see the light in someone’s eyes when they open that special package that you know holds the perfect gift.  But there could be a downside you don’t expect –  it’s that less than exciting moment when you read your account statement to find you’ve been billed $79.99 for a premium non-stick French skillet or $175.99 for a dusty purple print down puffer jacket, items you never purchased! Or you receive notice that someone has opened accounts using your personal identification, racking up huge fraudulent bills in your name.

Advia is committed to being your advocate (it’s in our name!). We work around the clock to ensure you have built-in fraud protection on all card purchases you make, and immediately notify you of any unusual activity on your account.  To help you avoid any unexpected headaches during this most joyous time of year, we’ve put together our 5 top tips to help see you safety through the holidays and beyond.

Want to show some extra love to family and friends?  Share these tips with them as well:

1. Keep receipts and check your account information frequently 

You’re making a lot of purchases during this busy time of year (on average over $750 more per family), including gifts, dinners out, and unexpected little extras that keep popping up. More than ever, it’s important to keep receipts (even if only a photo file on your phone) that you can use to compare against transactions listed on your account.  See something that doesn’t add up?  Contact the retailer associated with the questionable purchase and your Advia team so that we can work to get the amount credited back to your account.

2. Don’t click on links from unsolicited emails

Leading up and well past Black Friday we’re bombarded with emails offering amazing deals on all types of items.  But how do you know that the emails you’re receiving are legitimately from your favorite store or online retailer? Don’t be fooled – phishing sites are on the rise, and they’re getting more and more sophisticated with similar imagery, logos and purchase tools. In some cases, you will even receive a follow up email thanking you for your purchase following a bogus checkout.  To be sure, search out your favorite retailer online rather than responding to an email solicitation.

3. Be on guard for fraudulent retail apps

We live in a mobile world, and well over 60% of us use our smartphones to purchase goods and services. Thousands of new apps are added daily to iTunes and Google Playstore, and while Apple and Google work diligently to monitor and remove fraudulent apps, some still get through. Because so many retailers offer multiple apps, it can be tough to determine what’s legitimate and what isn’t and you certainly don’t want to erroneously input your personal credit card or banking information into a fraudulent app. Once again, we recommend that you visit your favorite retailer’s official website to download the app you’re after. Also, when reviewing statement transactions, always look for the name of the retailer to be correctly placed within your transaction description.

4. When shopping online, look for signs of security

When visiting websites, always look for a website whose pop up address begins with ‘https’ (the ‘s’ stands for secure site encryption). Also, look for a padlock or unbroken key at the top or bottom of the browser as a sign of the site’s security encryption. Be cautious when clicking on pop up ads as these ads may direct you to sites that look legitimate but often are not.  Always seek out the official website and look for additional recommended identifiers such as a physical address, return policy, and privacy policy.

5. Use your Advia EMV Chip Card

Both your Advia Visa® Debit Card and Visa® Credit Card are EMV Chip Enabled, providing the greatest protection from fraudulent account reproduction when making purchases at retailers equipped to accept your card. Additionally, our fraud protection team works 24/7 to monitor your transaction activity … ready to contact you in the case of unusual activity (to help us get in touch with you quickly, please contact us to make sure your contact information is updated on your account)!

Enjoy the holidays with your friends and family – but please do so wisely and safely!  Want to find out more?  Check out additional fraud prevention tips for the holidays, provided by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).