Scams happen year-round, but fraudsters increase their efforts this time of year as people spend more in preparation for the holidays.
Scams happen year-round, but fraudsters increase their efforts this time of year as people spend more in preparation for the holidays. Follow these four tips to stop Santa imposters in their tracks this season.
Tip 1: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Scammers do their research on hot buys each year and advertise hard-to-pass-up offers on the web. Be cautious of unfamiliar retail sites with unbelievable deals—it could be a “front” designed to steal your credit card info at checkout. Fraudsters have even been known to create look-alikes of popular websites, so be sure to double check the URL before you buy.
Tip 2: Give “inbox intruders” the boot.
We’ve all had a suspicious email come in through the inbox chimney at one time or another. During the holidays, watch out for these phony types of emails:
- Tempting coupon offers or discounts (see tip 1)
- Animated eCards that seem to be sent by a friend
- Charities asking for money
- Delivery failure notices from USPS imposters
If you’re unsure whether an email is legit, it’s best to just hit delete. Many email services also provide tools to report spam and phishing, which is when someone tries to use email to steal private information.
Tip 3: Beware of open networks—there may be a Grinch lurking nearby.
Imagine you’re at the mall and you just found the Blu-ray box set your dad’s been wanting, but you’d like to see if there’s a better deal on BestBuy.com. You pull out your phone and select ‘public Wi-Fi’ and start surfing the web. Little do you know, there’s a Grinch watching your every move. Fraudsters have been known to create open Wi-Fi signals in busy, public places, which they use to steal sensitive information from anyone who signs on. It’s always best to wait to make purchases in the safety of your home network or on a signal you can trust.
Tip 4: Watch out for phony ding, dong deliveries.
Packages are so much fun to receive, especially over the holidays. But watch out for fake emails from look-alike delivery companies. These emails may look like they’ve come from UPS, FedEx and even the U.S. Postal Service, but they are, in fact, phony. They may ask you to click on a link that then downloads a virus or malware onto your computer.
FedEx cautions consumers to be wary of emails with subject lines such as:
- Shipping Confirmation
- Verify Info
- Some important information is missing
- Please fulfill the documents attached to verify your identity
Be cautious about emails containing a heightened sense of urgency (“Do it now or else!”), especially during the busy holiday season.
What should I do if I encounter a scam?
The Federal Trade Commission provides detailed, step-by-step instructions to take care of scam situations, including submitting an official complaint and notifying local law enforcement. Visit identitytheft.gov to take action.
There’s No Gift Like Peace of Mind
It’s Verve’s goal—in line with our guiding 7 Cooperative Principles—to provide education, training and information to help our members stay financially healthy. Verve is committed to educating our members when it comes to their finances by providing details on recent scams and ways to stay safe. Help keep your family and friends safe this holiday season, too, by sharing these tips on preventing shopping scams.