‘Tis the season to be jolly … and even more aware of personal financial safety. Though it is often called the most wonderful time of year, Regions Bank reminds shoppers to keep their guard up to prevent thieves and hackers from stealing the joy of the season.

Whether it’s for Thanksgiving specials, Black Friday bargains or Cyber Monday sales, the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics estimates 165.3 million people in the U.S. are likely to shop in-store and online as the holiday season gets underway. Starting with Thanksgiving weekend and going through December, the NRF says consumers will be spending upwards of $730 billion.

…while this is really a time for celebration, people must also maintain their high sense of awareness.
John Joyce, Regions Corporate Security Group Manager

“Because it is such a joyous time of the year, people get wrapped up in shopping and taking care of their loved ones, and as a result, can drop their guard and forget how dangerous it is out there,” said John Joyce, Regions Corporate Security Group Manager. “This is the perfect time for fraudsters to go out and prey on unsuspecting shoppers. So, while this is really a time for celebration, people must also maintain their high sense of awareness.”

Joyce, a former Secret Service agent, said as shoppers are purchasing presents, they must remember not everybody has the same happy holiday spirit in mind.

“This is the perfect time where fraudsters are about; pickpockets, people that will smash and grab from their cars,” explained Joyce, noting that seasonal dangers also lurk at home and online. “Part of making life better for our customers is protecting their financial investments, and we hope to help do that by relaying safety tips.”

Keep in mind the following safety reminders this holiday season:

While shopping online

  • Don’t shop while connected to public Wi-Fi.
  • Limit online shopping to merchants you know and trust.
  • If an email is showing great deals for a vendor but looks suspicious, check it twice; go directly to the vendor’s website instead of clicking on the link.
  • Ensure the website is secure when checking out; the URL should start with “https://”
  • Use a strong, unique password if you set up an account to make a purchase.

At home

  • Have neighbors collect your packages while you are at work or out of town.
  • Limit what you share about your whereabouts and travel plans on social media.
  • Conceal empty boxes placed outside for trash or recycling collection to prevent advertising what may be inside your home.
  • Don’t wait for your statements to come in the mail; go online regularly to review for any fraudulent charges to credit cards and checking accounts.

While out and about

  • Limit the amount of cash you carry.
  • Use parking lots that have adequate lighting.
  • Don’t place valuables under the seat or in the trunk after you park.
  • If you take items out to your car before resuming shopping, make sure they’re secured in the trunk, out of view, before you go to the next store.
  • Reduce visibility of the cash you have on-hand when making purchases.
  • Keep a secure hold on your purse and parcels; don’t put them down or on top of the car to open the door.

“It’s important to stay focused on safety and security year-round, but this is unfortunately a time when customers can be even more susceptible to becoming a victim of theft or holiday crimes,” said Joyce. “You can never be too careful, too prepared or too aware.”

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