The Holiday season is known for the joy, sense of wonder, magic, and happiness it provides for people the world over. Unfortunately however there’s one other not so positive thing the Holiday season is known for, scams. According to the Better Business Bureau it’s not a coincidence that during this season of giving and spending that we see an increase in scams.
Thieves and scammers gravitate towards the Holiday season in particular because of the emotions involved with this time of year and for the the fact that most people are too busy to notice some of the warning signs that they would be more aware of at other points during the year.
With that in mind here are 7 scams you might encounter this Holiday season and how to avoid them:
1) Package/ Shipping Emails
With online shopping becoming an ever more prevalent part of the Holiday shopping experience shipping emails are a dime a dozen in email inboxes everywhere this time of year. It’s vital that you keep track of every online purchase you make so you won’t be fooled if you get an email that is seemingly from the United States Postal Service or private companies like FedEx and UPS that want you to click on links to third party websites or provide personal information to track your packages. These emails will often times contain viruses that can retrieve sensitive personal information from your computer.
2) Providing Account Info Over the Phone
No matter which bank or credit union you use, they will never call and ask you to provide them with account information. This time of year scammers often will call and pose as “security agents” telling you your account has been compromised due to a Holiday scam. Never give anyone on a call like this personal or account information. Call your bank yourself (not on a number provided by the caller) to verify.
3) Watch Your Wi-fi
While out and about completing your Holiday shopping it can be tempting to connect to free wi-fi networks to avoid using up your precious data, but you need to be careful. In most cases it is a service offered by the store or mall, but in others it’s a scammer looking to pick up some of your personal information without you giving a second thought. It can never hurt to double check that the store or mall you’re in offers free wi-fi before connecting.
4) Gift Cards
Gift cards as especially popular during the Holidays, but you need to be aware of cards that have been tampered with. When buying gift cards at the store always check to make sure someone hasn’t already scratched off the activation code. Thieves will often copy down the numbers and wait until the card is activated. Then by the time your recipient goes to use it’s value will have already been used.
5) Social Media Toy “Giveaways”
Keep an eye out for pop up ads on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter offering a “giveaway” or “raffle” of some of the year’s hottest gifts. Now while you may be willing to do whatever it takes to get your kids the gifts they want for the Holidays more times than not these kind of contests are just a simple way for scammers to get your personal information. In most of these cases the contest will ask for a cell phone number when you sign up and then lure you into a paid text messaging scheme.
6) Holiday E-Cards
E-Cards are becoming increasingly popular on all of the ever increasing social media platforms and with that popularity comes risk. If you are going to choose the E-card route to help spread a little Holiday cheer this season be sure to create them on a well known, reputable site. Scammers are now setting up malware ridden sites that will not only infect your computer, but the computers of your recipients as well.
7) Non-Existent Charities
Many people are looking to give back during the Holidays and for that reason many charities will make pitches to gain your support around this time of the year. Scammers know this and will often times make phone calls and send emails posing as a fictitious charity looking for donations. One simple way to combat this is by doing your homework. Check out the charity’s website and other resources such as Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, and the BBB’s Wide Giving Alliance to confirm the authenticity of the charity you want to support.
Do you know of any other potential Holiday scams to be aware of? Leave a comment below!