As we approach the holiday season, it is important to protect yourself against holiday fraud and scams that could hurt your personal finances. According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center’s 2020 report, more than $265 million was lost in non-payment or non-delivery scams. In the same report, another $129 million was lost due to credit card fraud. For you, it is important to know the signs of fraud and what you can do to protect yourself.
What Are the “Warning Signs” for a Possible Scam?
- If it is “too good to be true”, it probably is. Many social media posts or phishing emails will try to get your attention with “70% off a hot ticket item.” In reality, they want you to “purchase” the item so they can get your card information or just take the money from you directly.
- Look at the spelling and grammatical errors. If you notice that a website or email has spelling errors or bad grammar, you may want to double check the deal.
- Don’t click on links from any unsolicited emails. Many scams will say things like “Click this Link to access a HUGE DEAL” or “Download this App.” These scams, again, are just trying to get you to click the link so they can hack your account and gain access to your personal information.
What Are the Most Common Holiday Scams?
- Fake Charities. More than 3 in 5 Americans typically donate to an organization or charity during the holidays (World Vision). Those who are looking to capitalize on goodwill will create a fake charity just to receive donations that they will then keep the money for themselves.
- Want to make sure your donation goes to a good cause this year? Verify over 195,000+ charity’s validity by visiting CharityNavigator.org.
- Package Stealing. Even though online scams are the most popular, 43% of Americans fell victim to package theft in 2020 (C+R Research). In order to combat that statistic, arrange for a delivery that requires your signature upon receipt. If you can’t be there to sign for it, track your package to know when your package will be delivered.
- Free Vacation. People travel all throughout the holidays. In fact, USA Today labels the Day before Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve in their Top 10 Worst Travel Days of the year. Who wouldn’t love a free vacation to visit family and friends? This is again another way for scammers to get you to click a link or have you put down personal information for them to try to steal your identity.
How to Protect Yourself from Scams
- Smart Cybersecurity Practice
- Shopping online has become the new normal, and scammers know this too. You’ll receive emails with link after link on the best deals. However, if an email looks suspicious or a website asks for extremely personal information, be careful. Do not click any suspicious links or attachments in emails, on websites, or on social media. When in doubt, check the security of the link on the website and the full email address as a safe guard before purchasing.
- Monitor Your Account
- Pay attention to your checking and credit card accounts. To help protect yourself and your finances, utilize alerts on your cards. You can also turn your card off and on as needed to help prevent fraudulent purchases. In addition, if you are traveling for the holidays use travel alerts so that your financial institution knows you’re going to be on the move during the holidays. If you spot any fraudulent activity on your online banking apps or credit card accounts, report it immediately.
- Avoid Shopping with Cash
- Though it seems much safer than the possibility of losing your credit card or debit card, these accounts have federally mandated consumer protections to help you have peace of mind when shopping. If you are carrying cash and it is lost or stolen, it is very unlikely that you will get it back. If you must shop with cash, avoid carrying too much at once.