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We’re just a few short days away from the commencement of the biggest shopping season of the year. Whether Black Friday, Cyber Monday or last-minute rushing to get gifts for those on your list is your thing, it’s important to keep in mind that this time of year is also one that can be fruitful for criminals.

According to the 2018 Fraud Attack Index from Forter, holiday retail fraud is on the rise this year. With account takeover (ATO), coupon abuse, return and transactional fraud all topping the list.

For consumers, the concern comes from attacks that target finances and identity. Here are 3 important things to keep in mind this holiday shopping season to help you ward off the threats of fraud.

Buy Only from Trusted Sources

It can be tempting to purchase a deal that is so low it’s almost too good to be true. Chances are it is just that. There are sites online posing as credible storefronts set-up solely with the intention of stealing financial information. The fraudsters have gotten so tricky that deciphering between which vendor to choose from can tricky. Whether it’s a large retailer or a small startup you want to shop a site that’s secure (look for https in the browser) or security seals in the footer of the page. Do a quick online search for reviews to see what others have to say about their experience and go with your gut. If a site looks fishy and there’s designer, items for prices not even a wholesaler would pay, use common sense. The same goes for shopping brick and mortar stores before you swipe your credit info.

Choose the Most Secure Payment Option

Many credit card companies today want consumers to shop with confidence so they offer buyer protection against fraud and other breaches. While this is certainly a reassuring benefit, it doesn’t mean shopping irresponsibly. Any time you are going to pay for an item (and especially during the holiday season with breaches at risk) be sure to choose the most secure method of payment. Discern what that should be for each transaction. Shopping online on a site that accepts PayPal? Choose that option over entering your debit card information into the online form. A small pop-up shop might set-up only for the holiday season with breached card readers. This isn’t anything new. Criminals attack small businesses that might not be using the most secure methods. When possible at these locations, use cash.

Continuous Monitoring is a Must

One piece of the puzzle most people forget when it comes to fighting fraud is that it’s an ongoing requirement. While you’re heading out holiday shopping over the next few weeks, that doesn’t mean a breach will happen right then and there. Often times, we hear about hacks or people start to notice bogus charges to their accounts many months after the holidays have passed. You cannot simply pay attention during these months and think you’re protected. Fighting fraud and protecting your finances requires continual attention and monitoring. If you’re heading out to shop over the next few weeks, practice these tips for peace of mind. Happy shopping!