Holiday shopping safety tips to share with your members

Millions of U.S. shoppers are about to launch an all-out assault within the next few weeks as the 2018 holiday shopping season kicks off. According to the National Retail Federation, 2017 holiday shopping sales rose 5.5 percent to $691.9 billion in November and December 2017, marking the strongest growth in holiday retail sales in 12 years. This year, some predict that holiday spending could reach $1 trillion.

Where will all that spending action take place? The modern shopper won’t be driving to the mall or a local shopping center this year. Online shopping is set to rise almost 15 percent as more Americans adopt a digital approach to retail therapy. Fading brick and mortar sales are being replaced by a superior and more convenient online experience. Think zero traffic, lots of discounts and the blessing of shopping in PJs as just a few reasons why consumers might be avoiding crowded and poorly stocked retail stores.

Placing a digital bow on the package is emblematic of the times we live in with financial services. Our members are seeking an end-to-end solution carousel that meets or exceeds all anticipation.

Our ability to provide seamless and secure transactions is woven into the modern retail experience. Credit unions need to become solution-rich sources of payment options, so that members can shop with abandon knowing that they can enjoy a “best in show” experience 365 days per year. Their gift to you: that coveted top-of-wallet status.

Keeping your members safe as they navigate the holiday spending frenzy is a crucial role credit unions can and should play.

Here are a few tips to share with your members on safer payment practices during the holidays. Please do feel free to post these tips on your website or share it in a format that best serves your membership.

Details Really Do Matter

  • Fortify your wallet with two forms of plastic payment cards – credit and debit – and make sure you are aware of how much you can spend per day or per billing cycle on each one to avoid going over your spending limits.
  • Are you planning on shopping like a rock star by making a huge purchase? Call ahead! Alert your card issuer as soon as possible so that they can help pave the way to a smooth transaction.
  • Make sure you’ve updated your credit union card accounts with your current email, cell number and address. Purchases can be denied over something as minor as entering the wrong postal code if it doesn’t match your address on record.

Keep Safety Top of Mind

  • Always put your plastic payment cards back where they normally reside in your wallet. Hasty purchases can lead to misplaced or lost plastic, which will result in delays while you wait for a replacement.
  • Many retailers today accept Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and/or Android Pay. These forms of payment utilize your mobile device to create a safer payment experience using tokenization. A tokenized form of payment replaces your payment card number with a secure encrypted digital payment that can’t be used again. Who doesn’t love that idea? Ask your credit union if they participate and sign up today to take advantage of this convenient and secure payment option.
  • Avoid patronizing unfamiliar online retailers that offer “deals of the century.” These online merchants may not even be legitimate; the only thing they are in the market for is your credit card information. Stick to trusted retailers and brands that you know in order to avoid fraudulent activity on your payment cards.
  • If you see an unusual transaction on your debit or credit card statement, it is imperative that you report this to your credit union immediately to ensure that your financial accounts haven’t been compromised – and that they remain safely out of criminals’ hands.
  • Ask your credit union what options are available for you to closely monitor your financial accounts. Online banking apps, security alerts and SMS text messaging are commonplace today and highly recommended as a means to stay safer. Greater awareness means greater security.

Staying safe and having convenient, easy-to-use forms of payment makes the holidays happier for everyone. Whether your members are planning to shop in-person or digitally, encourage them to be proactive and work with you to keep their information safe.

John Buzzard

John Buzzard

John Buzzard is Fraud Specialist/Account Executive for CO-OP Financial Services, a financial technology provider to credit unions based in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. ( Buzzard can be reached ... Web: Details