With the holiday season approaching and a growing number of people expected to shop online with their computers and mobile devices, Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) offers 10 tips to help people manage their finances.
According to Forrester Research, people are spending more money online—U.S. online retail sales grew 12.6 percent in 2010 to reach $176.2 billion and they’re expected to increase another 10 percent this year1. In addition, Forrester Research reported mobile commerce is expected to top $6 billion by the end of this year, doubling from $3 billion in 20102.
“We want to help our customers succeed financially, and protecting their personal and financial information is an important component of our fraud prevention strategies,” said Secil Watson, senior vice president, Wells Fargo Internet Services Group. “The holiday season is a festive time, but it can also be stressful. No matter how a customer chooses to shop – through online sites, mobile devices, telephone, or at the store – we want to help them stay on track with their budget and safeguard their confidential information.”
Wells Fargo’s recommends the following money management tips during the holidays:
1. Make a list of everything you need to buy before going shopping, so you are not tempted to overspend. Stick to your list and budget to help you stay within your spending limit. Keep your list handy for use in following years.
2. Set an expense budget. Remember, the people receiving your gifts would not want you to spend more than you can afford. If your budget is tight, ask your family and friends if you can draw names for gift giving. Handmade gifts can be a good alternative. They’re more personal, which is an added benefit.
3. Do not disrupt your bill paying or savings habits over the holidays. It’s nice to give gifts, but it’s more important to keep your finances on track. You can also enroll in alerts to help you stay on top of your money, such as when a deposit is made or if there’s a low balance.
4. Take advantage of sales. Watch for sales at your favorite stores to stock up on items, and remember that buying in bulk during a sale helps save both time and money. If you are going to the mall, don’t forget your list and budget. Remember, too, that you may find great deals online and that many companies offer free shipping for online purchases.
5. Go Online. If you’re not using your bank’s online statements, now is a good time to start. Review your prior year’s holiday list and spending to determine where you can cut back. If you spent a lot on entertaining, consider planning a potluck or asking guests to bring their favorite dessert or drink to share.
Wells Fargo also offers tips for customers to protect their personal and financial information during the holiday shopping season:
6. Be careful what you disclose: Be wary of special holiday offers or requests for personal or financial information via e-mail, text message, phone, or web site from interactions you didn’t initiate. If you’re suspicious about a request for your information, verify that the request is legitimate by calling the number on the company’s website or billing statement.
While social websites help keep people in touch with friends and family, it’s important to remember not to share full birthdates, place of birth, pet’s name, children’s names, or names of schools attended, especially if this information could be used as a clue to account passwords or security questions.
7. Monitor purchase activity: Remember to review your account activity regularly, especially when you’re shopping and spending more than usual. Enroll in online and mobile banking so you can view a snapshot of your accounts while on the go and monitor your purchase activity online from home. Also, sign up for transaction alerts for your checking account and credit card to receive text or e-mail notification about account activity.
8. Ensure you’re protected: Check with your financial institution to ensure you’re covered if funds are removed from your account without your permission. Wells Fargo guarantees that its retail customers will be covered for 100 percent of the funds in their Wells Fargo account in the unlikely event that someone you haven’t authorized removes those funds through Wells Fargo Online or Wells Fargo Mobile Banking. Customers are responsible for protecting their password and account information and for providing prompt notification of an unauthorized transaction. Customers can visit https://www.wellsfargo.comprivacy_security/online/guarantee to learn how our guarantee works.
Wells Fargo cardholders are protected by our Zero Liability protection. This means that a cardholder is not liable for any unauthorized transactions made at merchants, over the phone, on the Internet or at the ATM, when promptly reported.
9. Protect your mobile, laptop, desktop computers and use caution: Keep your computer operating system, browser, and anti-virus software updated to ensure the highest level of protection. Updating anti-virus software on your computer is an initial step toward protecting yourself from malware. Also, remember to avoid downloading suspicious attachments or plug-ins.
It’s also a good idea to regularly change your online banking passwords. Be sure your online banking username and password differ from those used on other websites. And, when making purchases online, be sure the website address starts with “https.” The “s” helps ensure that your information will be passed along in a secure manner.
10. Know what to do if you lose your handbag or wallet: Take a moment to inventory or photocopy the personal and financial information you carry in your handbag or wallet, including items such as your driver’s license, bank cards, checks, and credit cards. Store your inventory list or photocopies in a secure location. This important step will help you know whom to contact if your handbag or wallet is lost or stolen.
Wells Fargo has additional resources available for customers online. The Wells Fargo Fraud Information Center (https://www.wellsfargo.com/privacy_security/fraud/), located on Wells Fargo’s public web site, provides fraud prevention tips so customers can learn more about how to protect their personal and financial information.
About Wells Fargo Online, Mobile and Text Banking
Wells Fargo is a leading provider of online and mobile financial services for individual consumers, small and middle market businesses, and large corporations with a full range of banking, money movement, investing, asset management, and other financial and risk management products. Wells Fargo won the 2010 Future Mobile Award from Juniper Research (August 2010). Wells Fargo’s mobile banking services earned a Gold ranking in the Javelin Strategy & Research 2010 Mobile Banking Scorecard (August 2010). Earlier this year, Wells Fargo was named the Best Consumer Internet Bank and Best Corporate/Institutional Internet Bank in the USA by Global Finance magazine and earned the top spot on Keynote Mobile Banking Scorecard.
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.3 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 9,000 stores, 12,000 ATMs, the Internet (wellsfargo.com and wachovia.com), and other distribution channels across North America and internationally. With more than 270,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in America. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 23 on Fortune’s 2011 rankings of America’s largest corporations. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy all our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially.