The holiday season is officially upon us! As you settle in for another great year of generosity and goodwill, it’s worth remembering that, unfortunately, there are people out there who will be looking for opportunities to take advantage of your holiday spirit. Don’t let scammers put a damper on your holiday season. Here are four holiday scams to look out for in 2023.
Scam #1: Ads on Social Media
Don’t buy products from ads on social media platforms. Scammers will suck you in with awesome ads that feature too-good-to-be-true great deals. Don’t fall for it.
- When you find a product you want, purchase it directly from the company’s website online instead of from the ad. If it’s a company you’ve never heard of before, do your homework to make sure it is legitimate.
- If you’re still not sure, order the product (or a similar product) from a website you already know and trust.
- Another option is to order the item online from a big retail store like Walmart or Target and schedule an at-store pickup time.
Scam #2: Package Delivery Theft
We all know this one. More and more shoppers are taking advantage of the convenience of online shopping, and so more and more people will steal unattended packages right from your porch.
- Utilize pick-up options.
- Have items delivered to your office.
- Set up an Amazon Locker.
- Some online purchases allow you to select a preferred delivery date. If this option is available, select a day and time you know you’ll be home and retrieve the package right away.
Scam #3: Charity Scams
Charity scammers are especially active around the holidays and play people’s heightened sense of generosity. Usually, you’ll receive a phone call, text, or email asking for donations to a specific cause.
- Slow down. Don’t give in to excessive pressure on the phone to make an immediate donation.
- End the unsolicited call or communication. Then go find out more about the charity. Do your homework. Watch out for charity name confusion or vague program descriptions. When you find a good candidate, reach out to the company directly using a legitimate channel.
- When in doubt, give locally.
Scam #4: Grandparent Scam
Grandparent scams are sometimes referred to as family emergency scams, and they work like this: You get a phone call or a text from a scammer posing as a panicked family member saying that he or she is in trouble. They might be hospitalized, arrested, or stuck out of town and need money. They’ll likely ask you to provide a gift card number, wire money, or send cash. (They prefer those payment methods because they’re difficult to trace.)
Note that earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission published a report that said scammers are using artificial intelligence to clone voices they find online—such as videos your relatives may have posted to social media or YouTube. What does that mean? That familiar voice at the end of an urgent phone call might not actually be your loved one. It’s an unfortunate use of artificial intelligence, but that’s the reality of it. Best to be aware of it.
- Slow down. Scammers are counting on you to react quickly. That’s why they are playing on your emotions.
- End the unsolicited call or communication by hanging up or not responding directly to the email or text message.
- Take initiative and contact your family member using an established channel you know and trust to verify the validity of the story. If they don’t pick up, reach out to other friends and family until you get some answers.
- Don’t send money if there is any doubt about the legitimacy of the call.
What to do if you fall for a scam
In any of these scenarios, if you shared your social security number or any other personal banking information, contact your financial institution and the following credit bureaus to freeze your account and protect yourself from identity theft.
How Verve and Fraud Squad can help
Our Fraud Squad provides education about common scams to retailers and consumers. The program helps raise awareness of common scams so they can more easily recognize the lies and avoid phone, email, social media, gift card and other scams to help them protect their financial health and wealth.
If you think your Verve account is at risk because of any scam, call Verve at 800.448.9228. One of our team members can look at your account with you to verify there are no suspicious transactions, help you cancel your card if you’ve entered your number into a questionable website, as well as guide you on how to safeguard your account against fraud.
It’s Verve’s goal to provide education, training, and information to help our members stay financially fit. Verve is committed to keeping our members educated when it comes to their finances by providing details on financial risks and ways to stay safe.
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Happy holidays, everyone!