BLOG: Watching Your Wallet This Holiday Shopping Season

By: Megan Healey, Deputy Press Secretary

December 15, 2015

If you still have holiday shopping to do (or start), you may decide to go online to finish up your purchases — from the cozy comfort of your living room.

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But this time of year especially, it’s important to protect yourself from those looking to steal your money or credit information.

Details of Governor Wolf's consumer financial protection intiative

As part of Governor Wolf’s new Consumer Financial Protection Initiative, the Department of Banking and Securities (DoBS) reminds us to take several steps to combat scammers and computer hackers:

  • Do not respond to emails or phone calls from strangers or unknown businesses that request your personal information
  • Create strong passwords for your online transactions: at least 8 characters in length with a mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols — and word combinations not found in the dictionary
  • Use different usernames and passwords for your checking and shopping accounts
  • Avoid shopping using unsecured, public wireless networks, such as those found in airports, coffee shops, and hotels
  • Look for a small lock icon somewhere on your browser
  • When making online payments, double-check that the web address begins with “https”
  • After completing your online transaction, log out of your account and close your browser
  • Secure your smartphone and computer with a screen lock and/or “power-on” password
  • Make sure your security software is updated regularly
  • Review your financial and shopping statements and immediately report any suspicious activity

As DoBS Secretary Robin Wiessmann reminds us, this is also a good time of year to check your credit report using the free, FTC-backed website, www.annualcreditreport.com.

governor-wolf-at-computer

The federal government says one in five consumers has an error on at least one of their credit reports, which can cause a credit score to drop and the interest you pay on everything from credit cards, to car loans, to your mortgage can be negatively impacted.

The Wolf Administration is committed to empowering Pennsylvanians with financial knowledge, while encouraging the protection of their personal information. To learn more about credit reports, credit scores, and cyber security, you can always call 1-800-PA-BANKS.

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