Holiday Shopping Safety

The holidays are here, and it’s likely that your holiday shopping is well underway. Unfortunately, while you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, scammers are also on the hunt this season and could take the merry right out of your Christmas. It’s important to protect yourself from fraud and from overspending. Here are a few ways to help make sure your Holidays stay jolly this year.

Debit Card Fraud Protection

Protect yourself from fraud with our Debit Card Fraud Protection service. Get alerts for card use sent right to your phone, and confirm whether it’s fraudulent activity or not.

Protect It

Use Protect It to keep your card safe. You no longer have to worry about your card being used for unauthorized transactions. Through the mobile banking app, you can ‘suspend’ your debit card when you are not using it, and then quickly ‘reactivate’ it when you are ready to make a purchase.

smsGuardian

Union Bank offers anti-fraud text alerts with smsGuardian. Here cardholders can respond to text alerts on suspicious transactions right from your cell phone or other sms text message device.

Other Holiday Savings Tips

Plan ahead

Before you start shopping, develop a budget for holiday expenses. Set aside holiday cash in increments throughout the year. If you need to use your credit card, try to make sure you can pay it back in January.

Keep track of other costs

Don’t forget costs besides gifts, like postage, gift wrap, decorations, greeting cards, food, travel and charitable contributions. Keep in mind the end of the year is a time when large annual or semi-annual costs like car insurance, life insurance and property taxes arise.

Make a list and check it twice

Make sure you know who you’re giving too, and try to limit your gift list to close friends and family. Make sure to keep track of what you spend on each.

Shop early and space out purchases

Avoid shopping while rushed or under pressure, which can lead to overspending. Make sure to comparison shop online first, or download an app that lets you compare prices before you buy anything in a store.  Before you head to the cashier (or online checkout), make sure your purchase is within the budget you set, and remember to leave space for any last minute purchases, bills, or forgotten gifts.

Avoid impulsive spending decisions

Finding a spectacular sale on something you’ve been wanting can easily throw you off course.  Stay strong and stick to your budget.  Don’t be blinded by limited-time incentives geared toward getting you to spend more. Oftentimes a sale is not all it’s cracked up to be, so keep track of prices to make sure you’re not getting shortchanged.

Use credit wisely

Limit the use of credit for holiday spending.  If you must use credit, use only one card—preferably the one with the lowest interest rate—and leave the rest at home.  Pick a date when you can pay off your holiday credit card bills, and commit to paying off the balance by that time.  Be sure to check statements for unauthorized charges and report them immediately.

Save your receipts and get acknowledgements for charitable donations

Not only will you need receipts for possible returns, you’ll need them to keep track of what you’ve spent. Compare this amount with your credit card statement to avoid unsanctioned purchases or theft. Knowing how much you spent will help you plan for next year, too.  Keeping receipts or acknowledgement letters for charitable donations is a must if you want to receive tax deductions in the spring.