'Tis the Season… To Be Extra Cautious

The holiday season typically means many things: time with family, celebrations, resolutions. For many of us it also means increased spending— both online and in stores. For fraudsters, it means increased opportunity. While you are making your holiday list and searching for the best deals, fraudsters are gearing up to take advantage of the increased sales volumes, email correspondence and preoccupied consumers whose guard may be down leaving them more susceptible to scams.

Whether you are shopping online or in stores, be sure to take a moment to make your security list and check it twice. Below are a few tips that can help you stay safe during the holiday season:

  1. Never provide your personal identification, financial information or usernames and passwords in email. Morgan Stanley will never ask you for this information via email nor will banking institutions, government agencies or legitimate online businesses.

  2. Never send personal financial information such as debit / credit card numbers and social security numbers via email. Malicious emails and phishing attacks are designed to look like legitimate communications from banks, money transfer services, package delivery services, or government agencies.

  3. Think before you click. Do not click on a link in an email or open a file attachment unless you are 100 percent sure that it has come from a legitimate source. Links in emails can take you to fraudulent sites that look identical to the legitimate site.
  4. Use only secure websites. When making purchases online, be sure the web address begins with https:// vs. http://. Most browsers will show a padlock icon, usually in the address bar, to denote that the page is secure.

  5. Do not fill out forms in emails, especially those that ask for your personal information. Instead, go to the company's website directly and ensure you are using a secure server (see # 4 above).

  6. Check your accounts. Check the accuracy of your debit/credit card and bank accounts and statements on a regular basis, especially during the busy holiday shopping season. Many scammers count on consumer inattention to get away with fraudulent charges. If you see anything suspicious, contact your financial institution immediately.

  7. Make security your first stop. If you receive a new computer or mobile device over the holidays, familiarize yourself with how to best protect it. Never leave your device unattended or unlocked.

If you believe your email has been hacked or your credentials have been compromised, notify your Financial Advisor immediately as these are typically precursors to fraud. You can also contact the Client Service Center at 1 (888) 454-3965 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). If you are outside the United States, you can call collect at 1 (801) 617-9150. You should then put a hold on your accounts, cancel credit cards and notify the credit bureaus.

The holiday season is also a peak travel time. Learn what you can do to protect yourself while traveling.

Best Practices

No matter what time of year, follow the best practices below to help safeguard your online accounts and information:

  1. Make it a habit to change your passwords on a regular basis.

  2. Keep anti-virus software up to date, and scan and remove viruses on a regular basis.

  3. Never give your password to anyone, even if they seem reputable. (Morgan Stanley will never ask you for your password.)

  4. Conduct a regular review of your online accounts to ensure the appropriate security and functional settings remain in place.

Learn More

Online Security Overview

Your Secure Online Experience

Online Fraud Protection

Protect Yourself

Social Engineering

Don't Let Fraudsters Spoil Your Vacation

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