Between the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping and getting together with friends and family, it’s important to be on alert for scams and fraudulent activity on your accounts. The holiday season is peak time for identity theft and cyber crimes, and education is the key to keeping your information safe.
1. Fake charities – It’s always wonderful to give, but do your research before contributing. There are people that prey on goodwill and set up fake organizations to collect your money.
2. Fake retailers – You also might see fake businesses popping up online. If you receive a solicitation from a business you’ve never heard of, Google it.
3. Email discounts – Email phishing occurs when criminals send emails masquerading as a legitimate business, probably one you know, and request you to click on links and enter your personal information. The holidays are an easy time to do that, as they can promise exclusive offers in exchange for your account information. If you get an email with a link requesting sensitive information, go directly to the website instead.
4. Home delivery scam – Packages are common this time of year, and you might get a notification that you have a package en route and your information is needed. Keep in mind that if someone is sending you a gift, the retailer has THEIR contact information and would get in touch with them with any issues. If you’ve ordered something, call the retailer directly.
5. Gift card scam – These scams usually involve “discounted” gift cards that are bogus. If you’re purchasing gift cards, do so at a reputable provider.
6. Fake flights and accommodations – This is a popular time for travel, and scammers will send out information on fake flights and hotel packages in order to get you to cough up your information. This is another case where you should only work with trusted sources.
7. Time share scam – The fine print of legitimate time shares can be difficult enough to follow, and scammers know this. Before committing to a time share, do your research and try to connect with others who have used the same provider.
8. Fake tech support – Many people get new electronics for the holidays, which is how fake tech support comes in. You might get contacted about updating or protecting your device, but if you didn’t call for support, ignore them. Your new device will come with a contact number for support.
9. Coupon scam – Any coupon or special offer that requires you to submit personal information (other than basics like email or mailing address) before receiving said offer should be avoided.
10. Holiday job scam – Many companies are hiring for temporary positions, and scammers know that. They’ll post fake jobs, usually work-from-home ones, and request you submit confidential information.
11. Fake check scam – These scams involve sending a check with instructions to send a certain amount back, but the check is no good and the scammers make off with the amount you already sent back.
12. E-card scam – If you get asked to click on a link to view an e-card, hover over the link to see if the URL matches the sending company. If you do click on it, do not put in any account information to view an e-card.
13. Financial account scam – Scammers will mimic financial institutions and request you to enter your account information in order to verify ownership or something along those lines. Your financial institution has your information already, and you should contact them directly if you receive such a request.
14. Malware – Check and make sure your computers are up-to-date with security software.
15. Social media scams – Look out for people you don’t know requesting to be your friend. A lot of times the information you share on social media can be used for identity theft.
Does it Sound Too Good to Be True?
A great rule of thumb when deciding if something is legitimate is remembering that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!