Scammers don’t take off the holiday season. In fact, with increased shopping activity and shoppers' heightened good nature, the holiday season offers scammers significant opportunities.
Stay ahead of scammers' attempts by using strong passwords for online accounts and controlling how you initiate contact with companies. As you shop and donate this holiday, be mindful of these scams, which start to pick up speed as soon as early November.
IF IT’S TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS
This saying is extremely relevant when millions of consumers are searching the internet for bargains. While there are legitimate deals to be had, beware of sellers offering brand-name merchandise at a steep discount. You might receive a knockoff item or a different item entirely. Or worse, you may receive nothing and have just given your information to someone trying to steal your money, or worse, your identity.
PROTECT YOUR POINTS AND MILES
As times have changed, scammers have adapted their techniques and interests. It's not just bank and credit card data scammers are after anymore. The FBI cites, "an increase in the demand for and resale value of stolen information" from travel reward sites.
To safeguard yourself, the FBI advises that secure passwords should be applied not just to bank websites, but also to accounts holding point and mileage currency.
These can take the form of scammers creating fake websites impersonating real charities or a solicitation in the name of a nonexistent charity altogether. The FBI warns that charity fraud increases during the holiday season when individuals seek to make end-of-year tax-deductible gifts or wish to contribute to a good cause.
To ensure your donations go to their intended source, only give to established charities that you are familiar with. When making donations, always navigate to the charity's website yourself. Avoid clicking links in emails or on social media sites that may be phishing attempts.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests, "when you consider giving to a specific charity, search its name [online] plus [the word] 'complaint,' 'review,' 'rating,' or 'scam.'"
THE MISSED DELIVERY
With more online orders expected this holiday season than ever before, scammers have a significant opportunity to gather consumer data via delivery scams. Such scams alert you to a package that could not be delivered and ask you to click a link or call to reroute your package.
Once you engage, you may find yourself on a website full of malware or asked to confirm or provide sign-in credentials or payment information. Instead of reaching out in the requested way, go directly to the shipping service's site or the retail outlet's site. Once there, you can search for your delivery status by tracking number or under recent orders in your account.
To get through the holiday season unscathed, the FTC advises paying by credit card to make disputing unauthorized transactions easier. Credit cards also allow you to take advantage of benefits, like protection for returns and purchases.