Smart Shopping Tips for the Holidays

By Better Business Bureau

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During the busy shopping season, consumers like to use debit and credit cards. However, scammers often see this as a great opportunity for fraud, which causes the public to mistrust shopping in-person or buying online.

According to the Canadian Bankers Association, Canada ranks second in the world for debit card usage. In 2008, Interac reported a total dollar loss for cardholders to be approximately $104 million with 148,000 ATM cardholder victims. As for credit card related frauds, Canadian Bankers Association statistics show losses of $407 million.

Sadly, most of the time, we’re only aware of how prevalent debit and credit card fraud is after it happens to us. You may receive a call stating that your credit card has been compromised, and you have no clue why it happened.

To protect yourself against debit and credit card frauds, Better Business Bureau would like to offer the following advice this holiday season:

If you are shopping at a retailer in-person:

Check the PIN pad to see if it has been tampered with before handing over your debit card. Look for raised screws on the back, the absence of a serial number, or if the machine looks like it doesn't fit.

Think twice about your habits. Often we see convenience as the key factor of why we use debit and credit cards for purchases. However, you may want to consider only using ATMs at bank branches, not at convenience stores or delis, since bank security cameras can offer evidence that fraudulent withdrawals with your debit card were not made by you.

Check your statements. Check your bank and credit card statements often, daily if possible, for any illegal activity. Call the card provider or institution at once, if you are suspicious about anything on your account.

If you are shopping online:

Do not click pop-up ads. These ads show up on e-commerce sites after you've made a purchase with your debit card. The pop-up promises cash-back rewards once you click "Yes" on the ad. But you may not realize that you're actually agreeing to automatically sign up for a company's online membership service. Unless you cancel, your card will get charged every month indefinitely.

Don’t fall for phishing. You click on a link in an e-mail purportedly from your bank and end up at a website where you're asked to enter and "verify" your debit card number or PIN number. Your bank would not contact you by e-mail to verify information, so do not fall for the phishing trap.

Confirm your online purchase is secure - Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, BBB recommends right-clicking anywhere on the page and selecting “Properties.” This will let you see the real URL (website address) and the dialog box will reveal if the site is not encrypted.

BBB wishes you a safe holiday season, with a reminder to trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, or seems too good to be true, then it probably is. For more tips like these, visit us at





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