As Virgin Islanders enter the holiday shopping season, the practice of good financial habits is recommended, according to a press release from the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis, who serves as the chairman of the V.I. Banking Board, is encouraging residents to:
1) Set a holiday spending budget and stick to it – this should reduce pressure from post-holiday bills.
2) Pay with cash when you can; if you must use credit, use it wisely.
3) Plan for Christmas 2012 by starting a Christmas fund. Many credit unions and banks offer special accounts just for this purpose.
Francis reminds consumers to support the local economy by shopping at the territory’s small businesses. However, he recognizes that many residents enjoy the convenience of online shopping and urges them to take proactive measures to safeguard their online shopping experience. Francis recommends that consumers:
1) Protect their computers by updating firewalls, spam filters and anti-virus and spyware software.
2) Shop on trustworthy Web sites.
3) Confirm that online purchases are secure. Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying.
4) Pay with a credit card. This affords shoppers dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card. Many card issuers also have “zero liability” policies under which the card holders pays nothing if the card is stolen.
5) Keep documentation of their order by printing the final confirmation page or e-mailed receipts as a record of purchase.
6) Monitor credit card statements for suspicious activity.