Protect your identity this holiday shopping season

Holiday shopping? Here's how to keep your identity safe.

It's that time of year again: As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach, holiday music floats through the malls, your email inbox fills with special deals, and millions of people kick off their holiday shopping. Unfortunately, it's also prime time for scammers and fraud artists. The tips below can help you safeguard your finances, your identity, and your peace of mind during this holiday season and all year long.

Protect your cards

  • Shop with just one or two cards that have relatively low limits; this can help limit your exposure to fraudulent use if your card is stolen
  • Sign your credit and debit cards
  • Shield your PINs and passwords from view when you enter them
  • Never send your card number directly through email
  • Consider using an RFID-blocking wallet card to prevent hackers from capturing card information transmitted via radio frequency
  • Shred your receipts, and cut up old or unused cards

Create strong PINs and passwords

  • Avoid easy, obvious choices, such as a name, birth date, phone number, the word "password," or 123456
  • Use a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols
  • Change passwords often, and use different passwords for different websites

Shop only on secure websites

  • Make purchases only through reputable, secured websites; look for a padlock icon and a URL starting with https://
  • Don't submit personal financial information when you're using a public computer or public Wi-Fi (such as at the library or airport)
  • If you have Wi-Fi at home, make sure it's password protected
  • Keep your security software up to date on your computer and your mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.)
  • If you log in to a site, always make sure you also log out when you're done

Be aware of phishing scams

  • Don't open attachments in emails or click links within emails unless you're certain they come from a trusted source; realize that scam artisits can mimic the look and logo of a real company
  • Instead of clicking, look up a website or phone number through a search engine or in materials (such as account statements) you may already have
  • Don't provide personal or financial information in an email; call the company or person directly instead, using a phone number you already have, not one in the email

Keep tabs on your accounts
Review your bank and credit card statements regularly. Online and mobile banking make it easy to stay current, and you can sign up for account alerts, too. All of this can help you spot potential trouble as soon as possible.

If you do identify any suspicious activity on your Westfield Bank accounts, please call us at 800.368.8930 or talk with a banker at your local branch. We're here to help ensure your financial information stays safe, so you can enjoy the holidays and the new year ahead.