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No Scrooges this Year, Just Happy Holidays

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Published on December 16, 2021

A few reminders and tips to keep your account safe and secure

There’s nothing like the holidays to bring people together and spread a little cheer – no matter how we do it these days. Whether you’re celebrating at home or via Zoom, enjoy yourself and be safe!

To help make sure nothing puts a damper on the season, we’re sharing some best practices for online shopping and some tips to help you recognize a few of the scams that always pop up this time of year. Some are oldies but goodies, so this may be a refresher for you. Some are a bit newer, and we hope this information helps you to remain vigilant when it comes to your finances.

As your credit union, we take your financial well-being seriously. If a quick read of these reminders keeps you safe this holiday season, then we’ve accomplished our goal.

Let’s start with a few reminders about online shopping. Check back here next week for some of the latest scams making the rounds.

Report any suspicious activity
Keep a close eye on your accounts this holiday season, whether you’re shopping with a debit card or credit card.

Community Choice debit Mastercard® and credit cards come with zero liability, but it’s always best to call and report suspicious activity as soon as you see it, unless of course, we call you first. We always have a team behind the scenes that keeps an eye on your card transactions so you can enjoy your shopping!

Set up a digital wallet
A digital wallet makes checkout quick and safe while shopping online and in person! Google, Apple, and PayPal host the most common digital wallets. Your digital wallet comes in handy because it is pre-installed on your Smartphone. With just the tap of your phone, you can pay for products and services without inserting your card and typing your PIN. Your hands stay clean, and your personal financial information remains secure.

Pause before you pay
If you prefer to use a debit or credit card to make purchases, take a moment (perhaps grab a cup of coffee) before you start typing in your numbers to make a purchase.

  • Ask yourself: Is this a secure website? Do your research. At the very least, make sure the site starts with https. That “s” stands for secure.'

  • If you receive a link from a store in your email, be sure to hover over it for a second or two. A window will appear telling you where the link is actually coming from; this is a good way you can spot potential fraud. Look for a misspelled business name or word. Look closely. Most times, it’s just one letter off. The link might direct you to something completely different.

‘Tap and Go’
Your new Community Choice Mastercard debit and credit cards are equipped with Tap and Go technology, so keep your gloves on or your hands in your pockets when checking out wherever you see this symbol.


PIN numbers matter
We live in an age of passwords, codes, and ID numbers. From the garage door opener to the keypad at your office, and from your Smartphone to your debit card, it seems like adding one more number is one too many. When we reach the number tipping point, we tend to choose one that we can’t forget, like a birth date. While that might be easy to remember, it’s also easy to crack! Here are a few tips for setting a PIN number that’s safe and secure.

  • Avoid the last four digits of your social security number or any variation of your birthday, address, or phone number.

  • Commit your number to memory or use a secure password saving app. Don’t write it down, not even in your phone.

  • If at any time you think your PIN or card may have been compromised, freeze your card immediately until you can contact us or the financial institution associated with your card. You can always manage your cards, including freezing/unfreezing them by signing in to e-Banking. Start by clicking Menu and then Settings. From there, click on Manage Credit & Debit Cards. Use the toggle button to freeze your card. To unfreeze, simply toggle back and the check mark will appear.

Which is safer – PIN or signature?
Signature-based transactions are protected by and fully disputable through Mastercard and more convenient. Most credit and debit cards offer some sort of fraud protection, but it’s best if you know what your particular card offers (such as zero liability on Community Choice Mastercard debit and credit cards) and report suspicious activities as soon as you become aware.

Is it safe to use a PIN?
Yes. Just be sure to set a unique PIN number and be aware at checkouts and ATMs. If you attempt to make a payment and a merchant, or their payment processor, does not have the “Tap and Go” option, you may be asked to insert your card and/or enter a PIN. Often, you can choose the option to run your debit card as a credit and then sign the keypad. With either option, the money will be deducted from your checking account. If your card does not insert easily into the machine or the card reader appears to be tampered with, reconsider your options. Card “shimmers” and “skimmers” target older equipment that doesn’t support contactless transactions.

With a little extra care and attention, you can make this holiday season safe and stress free.

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