Here’s How to Avoid Being Scammed This Holiday Season

Credit Cards Provide Protection

‘Tis the season for fraudsters to try to steal consumers’ credit card information and identities. Online shopping can make things easy for scammers. If consumers click on the wrong link or visit an incorrect website, their personal information can be stolen. That is particularly true during the holidays when purchases pick up online and in stores.

This year will be no different. The average American consumer will spend about $1,000 on holiday gifts. The majority of these consumers will do at least some of their shopping online. Even the ones shopping only in person are not safe from scams.

Outside of using cash, putting purchases on credit cards is the safest payment method to use. There are consumer protection rules that protect shoppers from fraudulent purchases. With debit cards, this can be more difficult.

Virtual Cards and Digital Wallets Can Provide More Security

To enhance the protection even more, some credit card companies offer virtual card numbers. These are one-time, unique, randomly generated numbers, which are linked to a credit card account. It masks the real credit card number, giving shoppers an extra layer of protection online.

Using mobile payment wallets like Apple Pay (AAPL), Google Pay (GOOGL), or PayPal (PYPL) can also enhance security. These digital wallets securely store customers’ credit card information but use tokens instead of the account number when consumers make purchases. That is another way to mask credit card information at checkout.

Be Wary of BNPL

Buy-now, pay-later systems have been growing in popularity. These payment platforms let consumers make interest-free installment payments to make large purchases. While these payment methods are convenient, they don’t offer the same protections as a credit card if the product is defective or the purchase was made fraudulently. Not to mention, the fees can be high, especially if consumers are late with payments.

Consumers also have to be mindful of scams on social media. Deals on products may seem really attractive, but are sometimes too good to be true. The holidays are a joyous time of year but they also bring out the fraudsters, requiring consumers to be smart about shopping.

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ABOUT Meg Richardson Meg Richardson is a writer specializing in markets, technology, and personal finance. She loves breaking down seemingly complex ideas and making them readable and interesting for everyone. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. When she is not writing about finance, she enjoys running in Central Park and drawing cartoons.

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