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Have Yourself a Holly, Jolly, & Secure Holiday Season!

Your guide to avoiding holiday fraud

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‘Tis the season for twinkling lights, warm cocoa, and holiday shopping sprees. But amid the ho-ho-ho's, let's not overlook the oh-no-no's of holiday fraud. Scammers thrive this time of year, but Varo is here to help keep your celebrations worry-free! Let’s jump into some best practices for maintaining a fraud-free holiday season.

Give yourself the gift of financial awareness

The only surprises this time of year should come from wrapped gifts, not your bank account. A quick glance at your recent transactions can reveal a lot. If you find something out of place, it’s important to contact your bank immediately if you don’t recognize a charge. Keep your holiday finances glowing by regular monitoring of your accounts.

Passwords that are hard to unwrap

A strong password is vital to financial protection. The best passwords are like holiday lights — bright, memorable, and impossible to untangle! Here’s some tips for crafting unbreakable passwords:

  • Use a Passphrase: Instead of a word, think of a memorable phrase or a line from a book or song lyrics, then turn it into an acronym. For example, “On the 3rd Day of Christmas, My True Love Sent To Me!” could become Ot3rdDoC,MTLS2M!

  • Random Word Combination: Pick two or three random words that have no obvious connection (but have some memorable meaning to you), and combine them with numbers and symbols. For example, Pillow+Glacier*Stripe9.

  • Combine Languages: Leverage words from different languages you're familiar with, along with other character types, to add additional complexity. For example, Fenêtre^7Giraffe uses the French word for window.

  • Substitute Numbers and Symbols: Replace certain letters with numbers and symbols that look similar. For instance, the word "password" can become pa$$w0rd. But remember, some substitutions are common, so it’s important to be creative!!

  • Unusual Keyboard Patterns: For those who are better with shapes and objects than words and phrases, an unusual keyboard pattern is one way of creating strong passwords. It just has to be something you can remember. Note: It’s crucial for you to avoid basic/common sequences such as qwerty, asdf, 123456, or abc123.

  • Avoid Personal Information: Stay away from easily-researched information like birthdays, anniversaries, or names of children/pets. Instead, use unfamiliar or abstract concepts that only you would know.

  • Password Length: The longer your password, the harder it is to crack. Aim for at least 12-15 characters in your password for enhanced security.

  • Password Managers: Password managers have the ability to generate and store complex, high-entropy passwords for you — each one is unique and nearly impossible to guess.

Keeping personal data safe from unwelcome elves

In the season of giving, remember that some things are better kept to ourselves. Share cautiously, as you would with anything else of value. Approach unsolicited requests for information with a healthy dose of skepticism. Not everyone on the other side of an email or phone call has the right intentions, and only a few should have access to your private details. 

Before responding, stop and verify the source thoroughly.

Deck the deals with safe payment methods

Few things are more satisfying than finding that one-of-a-kind gift, but whether you’re shopping on a reputable site or riding your sleigh through resale marketplaces, it’s crucial to rely on secure payment methods. Only use payment platforms, like Varo to Anyone or the Varo Believe secure credit card, that provide a robust security framework for financial transactions. This will extend a layer of protection to those wanting to keep their purchases safe and secure.

Beware of not-so-jolly phishing scams

Phishing scammers are on the prowl during holidays, baiting traps with the lure of seasonal sales and charity appeals. Be vigilant when reviewing your inbox, exercise caution — take a moment to verify the authenticity of the sender and practice the ‘hover technique’ (hovering over links to unveil the actual URL without the need to click). This can steer you away from malicious sites and too-good-to-be-true offers that intend on stealing your personal information.

Mistletoe and malware updates

Amidst holiday preparations, don't overlook the protection of your digital devices. Ensuring that your security software, browsers, and apps are updated will give your technology an additional layer of protection. These updates often include critical fixes for vulnerabilities that could otherwise leave your personal data exposed to digital grinches. Make it a habit to install updates promptly to ensure safe transactions and secure browsing.

Tidings of security and joy with Varo

As we hang the final ornaments and look forward to holiday celebrations, it's important to reflect on the steps we can take to ensure a season that's not only merry, but also secure. We've touched on the importance of regular account monitoring, the art of creating strong passwords, the wisdom of guarding personal information, the necessity of secure payment methods, and the benefit of ensuring that device updates aren’t left out in the cold. While phishing scams might attempt to dampen our spirits, your vigilance can keep the holidays bright. At Varo, the financial safety of your bank account is our top priority. We're committed to empowering you with the tools and knowledge to protect your hard-earned money. Our ever-watchful eye aims to secure your transactions, so your focus can be on joy, generosity, and cheer. If you ever need assistance or wish to delve deeper into strategies for financial safety, we're here with the resources to support you every step of the way.

Unless otherwise noted above, opinions, advice, services, or other information or content expressed or contributed by customers or non-Varo contributors do not necessarily state or reflect those of Varo Bank, N.A. Member FDIC (“Bank”). Bank is not responsible for the accuracy of any content provided by author(s) or contributor(s) other than Varo.


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