9 Shopping-Safety Strategies for the Holiday Season

 

 

With the 2018 holiday shopping season having arrived, Victory State Bank is reminding consumers to continue taking steps to protect their identities and money. Earlier in November, New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas issued a list of Holiday Shopping Tips, which Victory advises consumers pay attention to.

“The busy holiday shopping season is upon us but, unfortunately, this also means scammers are ready to prey on unsuspecting shoppers,” said Commissioner Salas. “With Americans spending nearly $1,000 during the holidays, it is important that they know how to protect their hard-earned money. We encourage everyone to use these tips as a guide when shopping to ensure the holiday season is a time of joy and not frustration.” Victory State Bank concurs, and in doing so is sharing the following tips for the DCA:

1)      KNOW YOUR CONSUMER RIGHTS

Stores can set their own refund policy, but they must post a sign with all conditions or limitations at each register, point of sale, or at each entrance where customers can easily read it. If no refund policy is posted, you can return any unused item within 30 days, and the business must give you the choice of cash or credit. Visit nyc.gov/dca to get all of DCA’s tips, including industries that have certain requirements like furniture storeselectronicsused cars, and supermarkets.

In New York City, businesses must give you a receipt for purchases over $20 automatically and upon request for purchases between $5 and $20.

Stores must post prices either on the item or on a sign where the item is displayed. It is illegal to charge more than that posted price.

Download 10 Things Every Consumer Should Know from nyc.gov/dca, or call 311 to request a copy.

2)      CREATE A BUDGET AND MAKE A LIST

Don’t let holiday spending put you in debt. Decide what you want to buy and how much you want to spend in advance, start shopping early and watch your bank balance. You’ll be less likely to overspend if you pay in cash or with a prepaid debit card — but be wary of hidden fees with prepaid cards.

BE A SMART SHOPPER

§  Use websites, smartphone apps (see below for our tip about fake apps before you download) and social media to research products, compare prices, and find sales and discounts before you start shopping. Avoid entering your personal information to get a coupon—some scammers use the promise of discounts to steal your information.

 

§  Save your receipts to make returns easier and check with the store for extended return policies and/or free return shipping, and any restocking fees.

 

§  Keep your eye on your credit card when making a purchase. Some employees have used handheld machines illegally to swipe card information and use it later to hack into accounts.

 

§  Think twice before you buy the “female version” of a product. Gender pricing is prevalent and means you could pay more for an item marketed towards females than items marketed towards males. Many people take advantage of holiday deals to make non-gift purchases. Whether you’re shopping for a new TV, a used car, or to remodel your kitchen, get DCA’s tips first at nyc.gov/dca.

 

3)      GIFT CARDS ARE ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR GIFTS – KNOW THE RULES

The value of a gift card is valid for at least five years from when the card was purchased, or when money was last loaded onto it. In New York, all fees must be listed, and no inactivity or service fees can be charged if the card has been used within the past 25 months. If you’re buying an “experience” card (like a spa treatment, flight or hotel stay), buy one with a specific dollar value so you can benefit from these consumer protections. Visit federalreserve.gov for the latest information on gift card rules and visit osc.state.ny.us to see if you have unclaimed funds because unused gift card values issued by New York corporations are required to be turned over to the Comptroller’s office as abandoned property after five years of dormancy.

4)      BE ON ALERT FOR HOLIDAY SCAMS

It’s a busy time of year and unfortunately scammers try to take advantage of people and their generosity. Shop at stores you know, research charities before you donate, protect your personal information and be wary of suspicious calls and emails, especially if they offer free things or deals that are too good to be true. Some common scams this year are:

§  Fake apps: A lot of fake retail and product apps pop up around the holiday season, some even mimic real shopping apps. Fake apps can do anything from giving you annoying pop-up ads to installing malware or stealing your personal and credit card information. Before you download an app, read the reviews and check the publisher to make sure they are legitimate. If you are shopping at a specific store, go to that store’s website to find its official app.

 

§  Gift Card Scams: Be careful of websites or social media sites that offer free or discounted gift cards. These sites often ask for your personal information or ask you to pay for a gift card that has no balance. Also, be suspicious of anyone who asks you to pay a bill with a gift card – government agencies (e.g., IRS, FBI, NYPD, etc.) and public utility companies (e.g., Con Edison) will never ask for payment using gift cards.

 

§  Delivery Scams: Watch out for texts or emails that say you will be receiving a package but then ask you to enter personal information. If you have questions about a delivery, don’t click the email but contact the carrier directly. Some thieves will even come to your door with a package for you sign for but then ask you to swipe your credit card for a “delivery charge.” Package theft is also common during the holiday season so be sure to have your packages delivered to a place where they will be safe.

 

§  Temporary Holiday Jobs Scams: If you’re looking for a temporary job during the holiday season for some extra money, be careful of jobs that are advertised online and that ask for personal information or payment in order to apply. Under the Fair Workweek Law, retail employers must give workers predictable schedules. Learn more about workers’ rights at nyc.gov/dca.

 

§  Social Media Gift Exchange: Be wary of social media posts inviting you to join a “Secret Gift Exchange,” promising that you will receive as many as 36 gifts in exchange for sending a $10 gift to a stranger. This is an illegal pyramid scheme, and it can be a way for scammers to obtain your personal contact information.

 

§  Fake Holiday E-Cards: Unfortunately, not all e-cards are sending holiday wishes but instead they may install malware to steal your personal information. Be wary of a e-card notification that is not from a recognized name but instead a “friend” or “secret admirer” and avoid links or attachments that end with “.exe,” which could download a virus.

 

5)      PROTECT YOURSELF WHEN SHOPPING ONLINE

Only shop on secure websites — use familiar websites or research and read reviews of new ones, and check that the website starts with https (not just http) or has a padlock icon. Avoid typing your personal information when using unsecured Wi-Fi. Also, don’t click on shopping links included in unsolicited emails or social media sites — type the address directly into your browser. Visit OnGuardOnline.gov for more information on how to be safe, secure, and responsible online.

6)      SHOP LOCAL AND DON’T BUY COUNTERFEIT OR “PIRATED” GOODS

Support New York City’s local economy by shopping at local retail stores and avoid buying counterfeit and pirated goods, which are illegal and jeopardize local jobs. Also, be suspicious if a deal seems too good to be true—it might be a knockoff.

7)      GET A DELIVERY DATE. SECURE A DELIVERY DATE IN WRITING BEFORE YOU LEAVE A STORE

 If retailers don’t specify a “ship by” date for your online purchase, they must ship within 30 days.

8)      CHECK FOR RECALLS

To check if a gift or toy has been recalled, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission at cpsc.gov and click on the recall section.

9)      FILE A COMPLAINT IF YOU’VE HAD A PROBLEM THE BUSINESS WON’T RESOLVE

File a complaint with DCA at nyc.gov/dca or by contacting 311. DCA mediators will help. You can file your complaint in multiple languages.

 

 

ABOUT VICTORY STATE BANK

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTCQX: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island, including the main office in the community of Great Kills and branches in West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank.

A planned sixth branch, to be situated in Meiers Corners, has received both regulatory and building department approvals.

For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100, or visited online at www.VictoryStateBank.com.

Media Contact: 

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718‑682‑1509

Mobile: 917‑715‑8761

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 Ways to Avoid Non-Delivery of Merchandise

 

Victory State Bank is alerting consumers to be on the lookout for scams involving the non-delivery of merchandise. As explained by the FBI, non-delivery of merchandise is a scheme most often linked to Internet auction fraud, in which a seller on an Internet auction website accepts payment for an item –  yet intentionally fails to ship it. Sellers like these sometimes will relist the item and attempt to sell it again through a different username.

Non-delivery of merchandise can also be considered a form of business fraud in a number of cases, says the FBI. For example, some web-based international companies advertise in the U.S. for affiliate opportunities, offering individuals the chance to sell high-end electronic items, such as plasma television sets and home theater systems, at significantly reduced prices. When these items sell, and the funds are forwarded to the companies from their affiliates, the items fail to ship to the individuals who sold them and thus never make it to their respective buyers. 

 

To help you avoid non-delivery of merchandise, Victory State Bank is sharing these tips from the FBI:

  • Make sure you are purchasing merchandise from a reputable source.
  • Do your homework on the individual or company to ensure that they are legitimate.
  • Obtain a physical address rather than simply a post office box and a telephone number, and call the seller to see if the telephone number is correct and working.
  • Send an e-mail to the seller to make sure the e-mail address is active, and be wary of those that utilize free e-mail services where a credit card wasn’t required to open the account.
  • Consider not purchasing from sellers who won’t provide you with this type of information.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau from the seller’s area.
  • Check out other websites regarding this person/company.
  • Don’t judge a person or company by their website; flashy websites can be set up quickly.
  • Be cautious when responding to special investment offers, especially through unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious when dealing with individuals/companies from outside your own country.
  • Inquire about returns and warranties.
  • If possible, purchase items online using your credit card, because you can often dispute the charges if something goes wrong.
  • Make sure the transaction is secure when you electronically send your credit card numbers.
  • Consider using an alternate payment service.

 

 

ABOUT VICTORY STATE BANK

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTCQX: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island, including the main office in the community of Great Kills and branches in West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank.

A planned sixth branch, to be situated in Meiers Corners, has received both regulatory and building department approvals.

For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100, or visited online at www.VictoryStateBank.com.

Media Contact: 

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718‑682‑1509

Mobile: 917‑715‑8761

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

 

 

10 Tips for Lowering Your Risk of a Cyberattack

 

 

Don’t let down your guard when it comes to cyber safety, warns Victory State Bank. As described by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “Cyberattacks are malicious attempts to access or damage a computer system. Cyberattacks can lead to loss of money, theft of personal information, and damage to your reputation and safety. …”

To help you reduce the risk of a cyberattack, the only community-based business bank in Staten Island, N.Y., is sharing these 10 tips from the Department of Homeland Security:

 

§  Use strong passwords that are 12 characters or longer. Use upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Change passwords monthly. Use a password manager.

 

§  Use a stronger authentication such as a PIN or password that only you would know. Consider using a separate device that can receive a code or uses a biometric scan (e.g., fingerprint scanner).

 

§  Watch for suspicious activity that asks you to do something right away, offers something that sounds too good to be true, or needs your personal information. Think before you click.

 

§  Check your account statements and credit reports regularly.

 

§  Use secure Internet communications.

 

§  Use sites that use HTTPS if you will access or provide any personal information. Do not use sites with invalid certificates. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that creates a secure connection.

 

§  Use antivirus solutions, malware, and firewalls to block threats.

 

§  Regularly back up your files in an encrypted file or encrypted file storage device

 

§  Limit the personal information you share online. Change privacy settings and do not use location features.

 

§  Protect your home network by changing the administrative and Wi-Fi passwords regularly. When configuring your router, choose the Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) setting, which is the strongest encryption option.

For more information about preventing and dealing with a cyberattack, visit the Department of Homeland Security website ready.gov.

 

 

ABOUT VICTORY STATE BANK

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTCQX: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island, including the main office in the community of Great Kills and branches in West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank.

A planned sixth branch, to be situated in Meiers Corners, has received both regulatory and building department approvals.

For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100, or visited online at www.VictoryStateBank.com.

Media Contact: 

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718‑682‑1509

Mobile: 917‑715‑8761

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

12 Basic Things You Should Know About Debit Cards

 

Debit cards are a common consumer tool – and their popularity makes them a target of thieves seeking access to a victim’s bank account.

To help you understand how a debit card may impact your finances, how to safely use a debit card – and assist you in thwarting thieves seeking to steal your money, Victory State Bank is highlighting 12 basic things you should know about debit cards:

 

 

1)      You can use a debit card and personal identification number (PIN) to withdraw cash from an automated teller machine (ATM), make deposits, or transfer funds between accounts.

 

2)      Some ATMs charge a fee if you are not a member of the bank’s ATM network.

 

3)      Retail purchases can also be made with a debit card.

 

4)      Be cautious about using your card online, if your card will be out of your sight (sit down restaurants), places where the final amount is uncertain (hotels), or where the card slot could have been tampered with (self-pay kiosks).

 

5)      Although a debit card looks like a credit card, the money for the purchase is transferred immediately from your bank account to the store’s or service provider’s account.

 

6)      Federal law does not allow you to stop payment on debit card purchase.

 

7)      Be suspicious of “shoulder surfers,” people who lurk around while you are using your debit card at an ATM or point of sale machine. If you suspect criminal activity, stop your transaction and walk away.

 

8)      If you suspect your debit card has been lost or stolen, call the card issuer immediately.

       Your liability for unauthorized use of your ATM or debit card will vary, depending on how quickly you report the loss.

 

9)      If you report a debit card missing before it is used, you are not responsible for any unauthorized withdrawals.

 

10)   Your liability is limited to $50 if you report the loss within two business days after you realize your debit card is missing. It increases to $500 if you report the loss between two and 60 days.

 

11)   If you have not reported an unauthorized use of a debit or ATM card within 60 days after the statement documenting the unauthorized use, you could lose all of the money in your bank account and the unused portion of your line of credit established for overdrafts.

 

12)   Sign up for text message or email alerts each time your debit card is used, so that you can know immediately if it has been used fraudulently. Check the policies of your card issuer; some offer more generous protections from fraud.

      SOURCE: USAGov’s “Consumer Action Handbook”

 

 

ABOUT VICTORY STATE BANK

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTCQX: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island, including the main office in the community of Great Kills and branches in West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank.

A planned sixth branch, to be situated in Meiers Corners, has received both regulatory and building department approvals.

For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100, or visited online at www.VictoryStateBank.com.

Media Contact: 

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718‑682‑1509

Mobile: 917‑715‑8761

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

10 Ways to Avoid Banking Scams

 

 

Victory State Bank, the only community-based commercial bank on Staten Island, is urging consumers and business owners to be on the lookout for banking scams, which are schemes that seek to access your bank account.

To familiarize you with some popular banking scams, and ways of protecting yourself, the Staten Island financial institution is sharing the following information from the federal government website USA.gov:

 

TYPES OF BANKING SCAMS

Overpayment scams - A scam artist sends you a counterfeit check. They tell you to deposit it in your bank account, and wire a portion of the money back to them. Since the check was fake, you’ll have to pay your bank the amount of the check, plus you’ll lose any money you wired.

Unsolicited check fraud - A scammer sends you a check for no reason. If you cash it, you may be authorizing the purchase of items or signing up for a loan you didn’t ask for.

Automatic withdrawals - A company sets up an automatic debit from your bank account, as part of a free trial or to collect lottery winnings.

Phishing - You receive an email message that asks you to verify your bank account or debit card number.

 

REPORT BANKING SCAMS

The proper organization to report a banking scam to depends on which type you were a victim of.

Report fake checks you receive by mail to the US Postal Inspection Service.

Report counterfeit checks to the Federal Trade Commission, either online or by phone at 1-877-382-4357.

- Contact your bank to report and stop unauthorized automatic withdrawals from your account.  

- Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

REMEMBER THESE 10 TIPS TO AVOID BEING A VICTIM OF A BANKING SCAM:

1)      Be suspicious if you are told to wire a portion of funds from a check back to a company.

2)      Be wary of lotteries or free trials that ask for your bank account number.

3)      Verify the authenticity of a cashier’s check with the bank that it is drawn on before depositing a check.

4)      When verifying a check or the issuer, use contact information on a bank’s website.

5)      Don’t be fooled by the appearance of checks or money orders. Scammers can make them look legitimate and official.

6)      Don’t deposit checks or money orders from strangers or companies you don’t have a relationship with.

7)      Don’t wire money to people or companies you don’t know.

8)      Don’t give your bank account number to someone who calls you, even for verification purposes.

9)      Don’t click on links in email to verify your bank account.

10)   Don’t accept a check that includes an overpayment.

 

 

ABOUT VICTORY STATE BANK

VSB Bancorp, Inc. (OTCQX: VSBN) is the one-bank holding company for Victory State Bank. As Staten Island, N.Y.’s only community-based commercial bank, Victory State Bank operates five full-service locations on the Island, including the main office in the community of Great Kills and branches in West Brighton, St. George, Dongan Hills and Rosebank.

A planned sixth branch, to be situated in Meiers Corners, has received both regulatory and building department approvals.

For additional information, Victory State Bank may be reached at 718-979-1100, or visited online at www.VictoryStateBank.com.

Media Contact: 

Relevant Public Relations, LLC

Headquarters: 718‑682‑1509

Mobile: 917‑715‑8761

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.