For many, the end of the year signifies a time for joy, families, and shopping. In the blink of an eye, it’s a new year, and if you’re not careful, you could quickly become a victim of an online scam. While scammers are always looking for their next target, they prey at times when online shopping and e-commerce are at their peak. When shopping this holiday season, be mindful of their tactics and follow these tips to keep yourself safe from scams that could quickly become a financial nightmare.
Where Should I Be Mindful of Scammers?
Scammers may disguise themselves as interested buyers or convincing sellers on familiar sites such as Facebook Marketplace or eBay. They’re quick to communicate and often want to send or receive payment through third-party payment services such as Zelle, Venmo, or Cash App, instead of the platform’s integrated payment system. These scammers know that by using third-party apps, they can get paid quickly, and the host marketplace cannot assist in any recovery efforts.
Some scammers request your email address as a way to verify your account. You’ll receive an email from what appears to be a payment service, asking you to “click a link” or provide personal information, such as a bank account number or social security number. These emails and links are fake and are designed to get personal information from you that can then be used to hack into your accounts or open bogus accounts under your name.
Other times, you will receive a bogus email stating that you’ve been overpaid and need to refund the buyer/scammer. The process will ask you to upgrade your account by providing personal credit card or bank account information. Providing this information could result in the scammer accessing your account and transferring large sums of money to an untraceable account.
Tips to Avoid Being Scammed
Follow these tips to prevent you from being scammed.
- Look for spelling or grammar mistakes or irregularities in their messaging. While they may be polite, scammers often use phrasing unusual in American English, such as “Kindly click this link” or “We are congratulating you on upgrading your account.” If you read their messages and it doesn’t read correctly, chances are high that a scammer is on the other side.
- Look for formatting mistakes and colored text in their messaging. Scammers often put odd spacing in their emails or change the colors of essential words to make them stand out.
- Only send and receive money with payment service apps, like Zelle, Venmo, and Cash App, with people you know and have met in person.
- Check the email domain that it comes from. Many scammers will make an email such as PaymentServices@Gmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Trusted brands will use their domains, such as @zellepay.com or @venmo.com.
If you’re unsure whether you’re about to be a scam victim, the best thing to do is not proceed. Scammers demand urgency, and the easiest thing to do is to stop replying. Should you fall victim to a scam, report it to us immediately at 717-747-2600.