EastWest Shares Essential Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

With the festive season around the corner, EastWest remains committed to ensuring its valued customers and the general public have a joyful and secure holiday experience.

The bank has compiled a list of essential tips and reminders to help everyone prepare efficiently for the forthcoming festivities:

Start with a Budget: Before diving into the holiday shopping frenzy, establish a clear budget. This not only ensures you avoid overspending but also guides your purchases and keeps financial stress at bay.

Shop Wisely: Plan and shop early. Not only does this give you ample time to compare prices, but it also means avoiding the crowds and long lines closer to the holidays. When shopping, protect yourself from fraud when you use your debit, prepaid, or credit card. Sign the back of your cards and watch over your card when you hand it to the cashier. For contactless credit cards, you don’t have to give your card to the cashier, sign a receipt or enter a PIN for small purchases. Just tap your Visa card using EastWest Pay- the first Near Field Communication NFC technology here in the Philippines.

Monitor your Card Usage: For debit and prepaid cards, check the amount on the POS terminal screen to make sure that your account will be debited for the correct amount, or, in case of credit cards, check the charge slip before signing it. For POS transactions, be the one to key-in your PIN and cover your hand when you do so. Get your card and the validated transaction slip and again check if the purchase and debited amounts match. Re-verify transactions by reviewing your monthly statements.

Safe Online Shopping: Ensure that the website you’re shopping from is secure. At the start of the URL, check if it says “https”. This means the site is encrypted for security. Look for other signs that signal the level of security: a lock icon (padlock), which appears in the browser address window, should be closed rather than open. A green lock icon means that the website has implemented the extended validation security feature. Don’t provide payment information through email. If a merchant requires you to do so, find another merchant that transacts using encrypted technologies.

Monitor Your Accounts: Regularly check your bank statements and accounts for any unauthorized transactions. If you notice anything suspicious, contact your bank immediately. Keep your bank cards in a safe place and don’t let anyone else use them. Protect them from getting demagnetized, scratched or bent. Choose a Personal Identification Number (PIN) that other people will find hard to guess – definitely not your birthday or “123456”. Memorize your PIN, change it from time to time, and most importantly, never disclose it to anyone.

Just like your PIN, you should keep your online banking password a secret. Create a strong password with at least eight characters composed of alphanumeric characters and combining lower- and upper-case letters. Change your password from time to time and don’t share it on the phone, via text or by email. Remember that no one should ask for your password or PIN, including your bank.

Use Loyalty Points and Rewards: Many forget to redeem accumulated points or rewards from their credit cards or loyalty programs. Use them to get discounts or even free items.

Always Practice Control: It’s easy to go overboard with credit card spending. Stick to a limit and ensure you can manage the repayments in the subsequent months. You can also set the purchase and withdrawal limits of your Debit and Prepaid cards to give you greater control over your spending and reduce the risk of fraud. Review your account statements carefully for unfamiliar transactions.

Stay Alert for Scams: The holiday season often sees a spike in phishing emails and scam calls. Never provide personal or banking information to unsolicited requests. It also helps to update your computer’s anti-virus and anti-spyware software and firewall. Change the default name of your wireless home router and protect it with a strong password, turning off “remote management” features, if any. Avoid using public Wi-Fi connection for financial transactions, such as online banking and online shopping.

ATM Pointers: Likewise, take safety precautions to minimize the chances of having your card, card details, or cash stolen when you use an ATM. Avoid using an ATM in suspicious locations or areas with poor lighting. Look around and be alert, especially in areas unfamiliar to you.

Before using an ATM, check for anything suspicious like wobbly keypad, card slot or cash dispenser as these suggest that there might be a device illegally installed in the machine. Also check for tiny cameras that may be installed on the underside of a PIN pad cover. These may either capture your PIN or the information stored in your card’s magnetic strip. Stolen information is used to make unauthorized transactions, create counterfeit cards, or empty your account funds through ATM withdrawal.

Plan your transaction ahead to minimize your time at an ATM. Never accept help from a stranger. Cover your hand as you enter your PIN on the keypad. Once your transaction is completed, immediately leave the area.

Consider Giving Time: Remember, gifts don’t always have to be material. Consider giving the gift of your time or skills, which can often be more meaningful.

Plan Ahead for 2024: Consider opening a holiday savings account for the next year. By setting aside a small amount each month, you’ll have a robust budget when the next festive season arrives.

Enjoy and Relax: Most importantly, remember that the holidays are a time for relaxation and making memories with loved ones. Don’t get overly consumed with spending; it’s the thought that counts!

Martin Reyes, SVP and Head of Bank Marketing and Corporate Communication of EastWest added, “The holiday season should be a time of joy and celebration. By planning ahead and being vigilant, we can ensure it remains a pleasant experience. At EastWest, we are always here to assist and support our customers in every financial aspect of their lives. While we have numerous safeguards to provide utmost banking security, customers can also protect themselves from fraud, identity theft, and scams by taking basic precautions.”

In case of lost or stolen cards and unauthorized transactions, EastWest customers should immediately call the EastWest Customer Service Hotline 888-1700 so that the bank can immediately act on the matter.