Tips and tricks for navigating the holiday shopping season

Although holiday shopping can be stressful, especially amid a pandemic, there are ways you can stay safe and secure while focusing on your long-term financial goals.

By Karla Krehbiel

As Regional President, Karla is responsible for overseeing the operational success of Johnson Bank and Johnson Insurance locations in Southeast Wisconsin. She diligently works to develop and maintain crucial business relationships across all lines of business throughout the region including banking, wealth and insurance solutions.

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Online shopping? Stay on guard against fraud

The popularity of online shopping has already risen in recent years, with the Covid-19 pandemic escalating consumer preferences for digital solutions.  Besides the obvious priorities of health and safety, consumers are recognizing and appreciating the convenience of online shopping, including easy price comparison and free delivery options.

Besides convenience and peace of mind, it’s important to be aware of other implications of online shopping, including instances of fraud. Here are some recommendations for protecting your personal information this holiday season.

Recognize and avoid phishing scams

A phishing scam is designed to trick victims into sharing confidential information with a seemingly trusted source. Typically, phishing scams will prompt victims to click a fraudulent link or hand personal information to someone impersonating a legitimate organization. 

Know your merchants

Verify the reputation of the company or seller. A reputable seller will include information such as a mailing address, phone number and detailed item description in an easy-to-find location. Fraudulent sites may offer lower prices to draw in consumers. If something appears too good to be true, it probably is.

Look for ‘https’

The “s” in “https” in a website’s URL stands for secure and indicates that communication with the webpage is encrypted. Also check that the website has security features that will encrypt your information as it’s being transferred to the seller’s database. You may see a small padlock appear on your browser indicating the transaction is secure.

Update your devices

Keep the operating system and application software secure by updating or patching all your computers and mobile devices. Check to see that your anti-virus/anti-spyware software is running and receiving automatic updates.

Use strong passwords

Choose a password that includes letters, numbers, special characters and upper- and lower-case letters and try to use a unique password for every site.

Avoid public Wi-Fi

Never use an unsecured network to shop, and that includes in your home. If you don’t have a password-protected network for your home, get one.

Stay focused on your long-term financial goals

Perhaps uncertainty around the economy or job market has prompted you to take an honest look at your finances. Or maybe the pandemic has propelled you into a saving mindset, despite unchanged financial circumstances. Here are a few ideas to keep your holiday spending in check.

Make a budget

It’s important to keep long-term financial goals on track during periods of increased spending like the holidays. While you might have a budget for your overall finances, consider creating a budget for your specific holiday shopping needs too. Determine what you want to spend in advance of shopping for each friend and family member to avoid impulse purchases.

Get creative

Creative gift giving can be a smart way to save money during the holidays. Consider less expensive but meaningful gifts like a family heirloom or homemade gift. If you’re not the crafty type, think of a service or experience gift that your loved one will appreciate. Does your family member or friend have an interest in a community cause or charity? Many charities have specific holiday initiatives to help those in need.

Track your spending

There are many tools available to help you stay on track with your holiday budget. If you use the MyJFG Online and Mobile Banking Solution, you can also set up alerts on your mobile device to efficiently track money coming in and out of your accounts and monitor for potential fraudulent activity.

Prioritize saving

Consider setting up a separate savings account to jumpstart your funds for these near-term purchases. Utilizing a separate savings accounts can help you avoid temptations to spend this money prematurely.

Shop early

It may be tempting to leave holiday shopping to the last minute. Not only can this result in increased stress, but procrastination can lead to paying higher prices, including extra shipping costs to ensure gifts arrive in time. When you shop early, you can take more time to make thoughtful decisions that fit within your budget.

Additional Resources

Contactless payments – Learn how mobile payment options like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Click to pay options can make you shopping more secure and convenient.