The holiday season when you may be more vulnerable to fraud and scams than usual as your attention is drawn in so many directions has just gone and we’re about to enter into the new year of 2022 with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to impact nearly all aspects of daily life.
Looking back to the days around a holiday, have you ever received robocalls or scam calls? Have you noticed that you get more scam calls during the holidays? Holidays are meant to be spent with family and friends, but scammers will do everything they can to disrupt your celebrations.
According to a 2021 Holiday Scam Report which investigates how Americans deal with scam calls throughout the holiday season, in November and December alone, Americans are likely to receive over 27 billion scam calls, resulting in 21 million scam victims and over $10 billion in losses. Besides, scammer activity is on the rise, with 54% of the respondents believing they would receive more scam calls during the holidays. Unfortunately, these holiday scams or spam calls are “fishing” for your personal account information that can be either used to directly steal your money or sold on the “dark web” to criminals.
In a sense, scammers can take your hard-earned cash, personal information, and, at the very least, your good mood for the holiday. So, to fight against phone scams, firstly let’s learn about what they are together.
- What are Phone Scams?
- How to Recognize a Phone Scam?
- Holiday Season Scams to Watch out in 2022
- How to Avoid Phone Scams during Holidays?
- What Should You Do if You Think You’ve Been Scammed?
What are Phone Scams?
Scammers always try to take your money or personal information over the phone. Phone scams might take the form of real-person phone calls, robocalls, or SMS messages. False promises, such as opportunities to buy things, invest your money, or receive free product trials, are frequently made by callers. They may also provide you with financial assistance in the form of free grants and lotteries. If you don’t pay, some scammers may threaten you with jail or lawsuits.
More severely, fraudsters sometimes deceive individuals into thinking they’re chatting with a police officer, a bank employee, or a representative of another reputable organization or agency, such as a government department, and seek for personal and financial details to obtain access to the victim’s account in these phone scams.
How to Recognize a Phone Scam?
Scammers frequently utilize appealing offers, philanthropic appeals, or claims of being affiliated with the government to lure you in. They won’t give you enough time to consider their pitch. They’ll put pressure on you to make a choice.
There are several common characteristics of phone scams that you can look out for in order to avoid falling victim to one:
- The caller claims to be from a well-known or reputable organization, such as a government agency or a well-known company.
- The caller asks for personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account number.
- The caller offers a prize or reward in exchange for providing personal information or making a payment.
- The caller threatens you with legal action or other consequences if you do not provide personal information or make a payment.
- The caller uses high-pressure tactics to try to get you to make a decision quickly, without thinking.
- The caller’s phone number appears unfamiliar or suspicious.
- The caller’s story or offer seems too good to be true.
If you encounter a caller who exhibits any of these characteristics, it is likely that you are dealing with a phone scam. The best thing to do in this situation is to hang up the phone and not provide any personal information or make any payments. If you are unsure whether a caller is legitimate, you can independently verify the caller’s identity and the legitimacy of their offer before providing any information.
Holiday Season Scams to Watch out in 2022
The holiday season is a popular time for scams and fraudulent activities, as scammers take advantage of people’s generosity and increased shopping activity. Some common holiday season scams include:
Fake charity scams
Scammers pose as representatives of legitimate charities and solicit donations, but keep the money for themselves instead of using it for the intended purpose.
This is how a deceptive charitable solicitation call might sound:
“Hi. I’m calling on behalf of The World Health Organization. We are raising money for local communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Would you be interested in making a small donation?”
Gift card scams
Scammers sell fake or stolen gift cards at a discount, or trick people into buying gift cards and providing the card information to the scammer.
Scammers offer fake or non-existent travel deals and accommodations, or trick people into paying for travel services that are never provided.
Online shopping scams
Scammers set up fake websites or listings to sell non-existent or low-quality goods, or trick people into providing personal and financial information when making online purchases.
Scammers send fake emails or text messages that appear to be from a legitimate organization, and trick people into providing personal and financial information or making payments.
Temporary Holiday Jobs Scams
As the holidays are the busiest time of year for most retailers, businesses frequently hire seasonal staff. These jobs can be a good way to supplement your income, but scammers also take advantage of the seasonal employment season to defraud job seekers.
Sometimes, a calling offering temporary holiday jobs will require applicants to pay for job supplies, application fees, or training fees first before giving you the high wages for routine tasks.
Are you looking for a job during the holiday season? Check to see whether it’s legitimate!
Black Friday and Cyber Monday Scams
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are popular shopping days that take place after Thanksgiving in the United States. They are known for offering steep discounts on a wide variety of goods and services. However, like any popular event, they are also often targeted by scammers who try to take advantage of the large number of people looking to save money on their holiday shopping.
For example, a victim will receive a call from someone claiming to work for Amazon, notifying them that their Prime account has been compromised. The caller will then persuade the victim to install a program on their computer that will give them remote access, presumably to fix the problem.
The caller will then demand that the victim log into their bank account and compensate them for their “help” once they have gained access.
Having experienced Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Christmas is undoubtedly the second shopping holiday for most people. However, as millions of individuals shop online for last-minute Christmas gifts for their friends and family, many don’t consider the underlying threat of online scams when making their purchases. In fact, by posing as a legitimate offer, many of these holiday-themed phone calls offering the “ideal gift” for that particular someone will aim to fool you into divulging personal information and also taking your money.
In addition, the charity scams, package delivery scams, gift card scams that have been mentioned above should also be paid more attention to as they are likely to happen during the Christmas holiday.
April Fools’ Day Scams
April Fool’s Day is full of jokes and laughter with your family and friends. However, for most scammers, every day is April Fool’s Day, and their well-designed scams are also on the way. Maybe the “imposter” scams are the most popular on this day, which makes you wonder about the identity of the other party. Skilled con artists can impersonate themselves as almost any company or government agency. They can even claim to be a member of the family who is in financial problems and requires immediate assistance.
Therefore, keep in mind that the potential scams are no April Fools’ Joke and keep vigilant at all times.
Mother’s Day Scams
Mother’s Day is also a holiday for shopping and love, but of course, scammers won’t miss this opportunity to trick you into paying money or revealing your personal information.
Scammers may use words such as “Mom has been kept at home for weeks due to the coronavirus, get her a fantastic gift.” This kind of language might throw people off and make you feel guilty. Then they may attract you to fake floral sites, waiting to obtain your financial information. Of course, for Mother’s Day, you should give your mother a wonderful present, but do so on your own terms.
By the way, also remember to keep your mom on the alert for some calls on this day, and don’t easily trust someone to give a gift or coupons for free.
How to Avoid Phone Scams during Holidays?
The holidays were supposed to be full of laughter and joy and all good things, but now you’re probably getting caught up in scam calls during the holidays. An important thing that you must know is that the best defense against these annoying phone scams during the holiday is wariness on your part. Some useful tips to avoid phone scams include:
- Don’t trust any information on a caller ID — it’s readily faked, at least until carriers embrace new technology that verifies the true source of a call.
- Never give out your whole account number or PIN, even if banks will legitimately ask for the final four numbers of your card for verification.
- If you speak with someone on the phone, ask for their phone number so you may contact them back, or dial the number on the back of your credit card to reach your bank.
- Always research companies and organizations before your buy or donate.
- Don’t follow any phone prompts that have been asked. (“To collect your prize, press 1.”)
- Always do research on the “organization” that occurs in the calling.
- Never reveal your private information, including address, bank card account number, various passwords, etc.
- Beware of offers of rewards or payments related to the vaccine.
- Download a spam call blocker app like Realcall to protect against robocalls or spam calls from the source.
What Should You Do if You Think You’ve Been Scammed?
It’s difficult to accept that you’ve been a victim of a scam. Feelings of guilt or humiliation may arise as a result of falling into the scammer’s trap. But the most crucial thing is that you act immediately to remedy the problem.
Please contact your bank right away.
If you paid with a credit or debit card or wired money to a phony business, call your bank right once and explain that you’ve been a victim of fraud. You can ask if the transaction can be canceled, and your money can be back. The payment may have already gone through in some circumstances, and it will be too late to stop it—but, according to the National Consumer Law Center, customers can dispute the payment after it has been made to try to get their money back.
Make a formal complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
By filing a complaint with the FTC about the scam, you may be able to prevent others from falling prey to the same tricks. The FTC will also give you with next steps on how to protect yourself, such as possible ways to get your money back, after you submit a report.
Freeze your credit reports.
If your personal information has been stolen as part of a fraud, you should immediately freeze your credit reports. It’s free, and it prevents spammers from creating accounts in your name by preventing potential creditors from accessing information needed to approve new credit applications.
- The holiday season is full of happiness but also traps. More phone scammers appear to steal your privacy and money as well. So, it’s high time to learn to recognize a phone scam during the holiday.
- Phone scams are a terrible and time-consuming misfortune to go through and be aware of these holiday phone scams in 2022, including charity scams, prize and lottery scams, loan offer and debt scams, package delivery scams, gift card scams, temporary holiday jobs scams, and fake vaccines scams.
- The best defense against these annoying phone scams during holidays is wariness on your part. The most important thing is not to reveal any private information if receiving an unknown call.
- When you have found that you’ve been scammed, calm down first and look for solutions to remedy the problem. For example, you can ask the FTC for help and freeze your credit reports.