Financial security tips for the holidays

Couple smiling by Christmas tree

With the halls decked, candles lit, and presents under the tree, the holidays are a time of festive fun—and a little chaos—with family and friends. And while most people are celebrating this time of year, others are taking advantage of the craziness of the season Grinch-style.

Make this a December to remember, and follow these five quick tips to keep your finances secure this holiday season.

When shopping:

Use secure sites

Shopping online is a fast and easy way to get your gifts quickly this holiday season. But make sure before checking out that you’re paying through a secure site. Secure payment systems help keep your information protected through encryption. Double-check for the lock icon and the site’s SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certification—does it start with “http://” or “https://”? If so, your connection is encrypted and secure. Not all sites have SSL certification, and browsing an unsecure site may not be an issue, but never share your financial or personal information without this added layer of protection.

Use your credit card

‘Tis the season for Christmas presents and online shopping. Whenever possible, use a credit card over payment apps like Venmo. Credit cards, like Georgia’s Own Visa® cards, offer greater protections to dispute charges when goods or services are not delivered as promised. Beware of giving out your bank details or using payment apps, as these transactions are basically the same as handing over cash and likely can’t be disputed at all.

When traveling:

Set up travel notices

Whether you’re heading to a new city or across the country, you should alert your financial institution to your travels. This ensures your transactions don’t get flagged for fraud based on the new location. If you’re heading overseas, setting a travel notice for foreign travel is even more important to keep your finances secure, especially if you won’t have consistent internet access.

You should also review the travel perks or protections offered by your card provider. Some cards offer even more perks for traveling, like travel insurance and reimbursements toward CLEAR, Global Entry, or TSA Precheck, which can save you both money and time during traveling. Additionally, credit cards offer fraud protection in case your transaction is compromised or your card information is stolen while you’re away.

Traveling with your Georgia’s Own card? We’ve got your back! Georgia’s Own Visa Signature®, Platinum, and Student Visa cards offer travel and emergency assistance and trip cancellation/interruption reimbursement when you book travel with those cards.

Use secure Wi-Fi networks

While we’ve already discussed the importance of online shopping with secure sites, there’s one other aspect you should consider when shopping online, especially when you’re away from home. While shopping online from your couch can be relatively safe—private Wi-Fi is harder to hack—public Wi-Fi isn’t as secure. In fact, using public Wi-Fi can leave you susceptible to malware or different forms of digital eavesdropping, like man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks or Wi-Fi snooping and sniffing.

To protect yourself, try to make all online purchases from your home or from private Wi-Fi that you trust. If you find yourself shopping on your phone while out at the stores, turn off public Wi-Fi and use data instead. By entering your credit card number or other sensitive bank personal information, your risk of fraud increases significantly.

Lastly, be aware of your surroundings when shopping online in those holiday crowds. Don’t read off any personal information to your kid shopping on their phone, and watch out for people looking over your shoulder.

Be aware of scams

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received almost 12,000 reports of non-payment/non-delivery scams, resulting in losses over $73 million, just during 2022 holiday shopping season alone!

Additionally, scammers may capitalize on your feelings of goodwill this season. Be aware of fraudulent charities, and be sure to do your research before making donations. Another common holiday scam mimics package deliveries to get you to click on links, give up personal information, or even download malware to your device. Never click on a suspicious link or attachments in emails, on websites, or on social media.

If you believe you’re the victim of a scam, regardless of the time of year, contact your financial institution immediately, and file a report with

Key takeaways

  • Use your credit card whenever possible. Most credit cards offer extra protection for purchases, just in case something goes wrong. And be sure to check out your card’s travel protection options as well.
  • Shopping online? Double-check you’re using a secure payment site and that you’re using private Wi-Fi or data to avoid your information being stolen.
  • Stay alert and trust your gut if something feels off. Don’t give out personal or financial information over the phone—honest organizations do not request personal information via call, email, text, or A2A payments.

Whether you’re traveling this season or hosting for the holidays, we’ve got you covered.

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