It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Unfortunately, it’s also the time when scammers are likely to strike. Don’t let these grinches steal your holiday cheer. It’s always important to be on the lookout for fraudulent activity. Here are six common ways scammers can ruin your festive spirit:
be on the lookout for these common types of fraud
Phishing is the fraudulent practice of requesting personal information, such as passwords, account numbers, or other sensitive identifying information pretending to be from reputable companies. It’s always important to be vigilant about phishing, particularly so during the holidays.
Phishing can come in the form of letters, emails, phone calls, or even text messages. Usually, these messages claim to be from a trusted source, like your financial institution. Many times, they will ask you to verify some personal information in one form or another. If this happens, it’s important to stop and take stock of the encounter.
REMEMBER: Your bank or credit card company will never contact you and ask you to verify your personal information.
Sometimes scammers will email you pretending to be a company you trust, like Netflix or your phone company. Before clicking on any email links, visit the company’s verified website (not a link through the email,) use their chat feature, or give them a call. If you discover that the email is fraudulent, mark it as a phishing attempt so that these emails will get filtered to your spam folder.
2. Gift Card Scams
Gift cards are a popular and convenient gift for all occasions. They’re also a tool that scammers use to steal money from people. Scammers often target taxpayers by asking them to pay a fake tax bill with gift cards. They may also use a compromised email account to send emails requesting gift card purchases for friends, family, or co-workers. The IRS will never ask you to pay your tax bill with a gift card. Sometimes, charities may ask for gift cards as donations. Always contact them directly and make sure the request is real before sending.
3. Fake Shopping Websites
We get it; you see so many ads scrolling through social media, using search engines, etc. Sometimes, these ads and can lead you to fraudulent websites that look legitimate. It’s always best to type in the company website URL into your browser. Look for the “HTTPS” before the website URL, for example, https://www.traditions.bank . The “S” in “HTTPS” stands for secure. Most reputable e-commerce websites will also have a secure checkout. Look for a lock icon when you pay.
4. Fake Charities
Unfortunately, scammers can take advantage of our generosity and goodwill during the holidays. These scams will often come as an email or phone call with the scammer asking for a holiday donation to a charity. Sometimes this can be a charity in your community, but other times it is a fictitious one. Don’t let this curb your holiday spirit! Vet your charitable giving through a website like GuideStar. The safest option for donating to a nonprofit is to do so directly through their website.
5. Package Theft
After Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it may seem like you have a new delivery coming in almost every day! Package thieves notice too… Millions have packages stolen every year, and during a busy online shopping season, it may be difficult or impossible to have these items replaced. If possible, try and arrange for a delivery where a signature is required. This is a great option, especially if the item is expensive or hard to find. If you order from Amazon, consider sending the item to an Amazon Locker instead of the recipient’s household. This service is free, and you get the peace of mind knowing your package is safe.
6. Delivery Scams
When you’re ordering online, you are probably getting a lot of emails notifying you that your orders have shipped. Scammers can take advantage of this as well. Delivery scams occur when you are sent a link with fraudulent tracking information. It’s important to take the time to review the email before clicking on any links. Create a system to keep track of outstanding orders. If possible, always check on the status of your orders directly through the company’s website.
Learn more about common types of fraud and how to avoid them:
- Federal Trade Commission Scam Alerts
- American Bankers Association – #BanksNeverAskThat
- AARP Scams and Fraud
- Enrichu Education