As the holiday season approaches, it’s important to be aware of the potential for scams. Every year, scammers create new and creative ways to target unsuspecting shoppers and take advantage of their financial information. While it’s easy to get wrapped up in the holiday spirit, it’s important to stay vigilant and protect yourself from fraud. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to identify and avoid holiday scams.
Time for Holiday Scam Rage
Believe it or not, the holiday season is fast approaching! It’s time to be extra vigilant about protecting yourself against scammers and fraudsters. Every year, unsuspecting individuals fall victim to holiday scams that can leave them out of pocket and with broken hearts. To ensure that you don’t become one of them, we’ve put together this guide to help you identify and avoid some of the most common holiday scams. By staying aware of these common holiday scams and taking the necessary steps to protect yourself, you can ensure that your holiday season remains stress-free and scam-free.
How to Identify Holiday Scams
The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration, but unfortunately, it is also a time when criminals take advantage of unsuspecting victims. Scams abound during the holiday season, from fake charities to fraudulent online shopping sites to email phishing schemes. To protect yourself and your family from becoming victims of these scams, it’s important to know how to identify them.
Fake Charity Scam
During the holidays, many people open their hearts and wallets to help those in need. Unfortunately, some fraudsters take advantage of this generosity by posing as legitimate charities in order to solicit donations. Many scammers create fake charities in order to collect money from unsuspecting victims. Be sure to do your research before donating to any charity or nonprofit organization. Check their website, review their history and make sure they have a valid status with the IRS. If you’re asked for your credit card information or other personal information, don’t give it out.
Online Shopping Scam
Fake online stores often pop up during the holiday season, offering great deals on items such as toys, electronics, and clothing. Before making any purchases, be sure to check the website’s domain name and look for reviews from past customers. If you can’t find any information about the store online, it’s best to steer clear.
Gift Card Scam
While gift cards are around all year, they become more in demand during the holidays. They’re one of the most popular gift choices for Christmas, which is what scammers capitalize on. They use them to trick people and steal their money, effectively robbing people who were meant to receive them of buying themselves gifts. Scammers would typically pull back the privacy strip to access the code and PIN of gift cards to empty them. Then, they’d sell the blank cards as they’ve never been used at all, unbeknownst to shoppers. Some gift cards can also be expensive, which is also another thing scammers are counting on. They trick shoppers into buying cards they’ve emptied by offering them at lower prices.
Seasonal Job Scam
During the holiday season, scammers prey on people looking to make extra cash by posting fake job listings offering good money for little work. But in almost all cases, the scammers will either steal your personal information during the employment or trick you into sending them money for training fees. Beware of any job that asks for your personal information right away — including your Social Security number (SSN), bank account numbers, or tax information.
Email Phishing Schemes
During the holidays, scammers often send out emails that appear to be from legitimate companies, such as banks or online retailers, asking for your personal information or financial data. Never click on any links or open attachments from unknown sources, and never respond to any emails asking for your personal information.
Secret Santa Scam
Fraudsters use the traditional Secret Santa game to trick you into sending money and gifts to them (as well as giving up your personal information). In these scams, you’re asked to provide your name and address, along with the contact information of a few friends. Then, you’re asked to send money or small gifts to a stranger on the list. In return, you’ll receive multiple gifts from other people who participate. But the whole thing is a scam and any money, information, or gifts you send go straight to the scammers.
Holiday Travel and Online Airfare Scam
With travel opening back up, many people are looking for cheap airline tickets for the holiday season. A website or marketplace seller is offering airline tickets at a significant discount. Scammers tout huge deals to try and get you to suspend your suspicions. Scammers are targeting travelers with schemes ranging from bogus flight-booking websites to fraudulent flight cancellation emails and sudden price increases.
This especially insidious holiday scam mainly targets senior citizens. According to the FBI, elder fraud costs victims $3 billion in losses each year. Scammers text or email posing as a grandchild in trouble, and ask for money — usually through wire transfers or gift cards. Someone texts or emails claiming to be a family member in need but asks you not to tell anyone else about it. The message sounds strange. When in doubt, trust your gut and call the family member directly to confirm it’s them.
Here are some more telltale signs of holiday scams with extra tips to avoid them:
- Any website that doesn’t show an address or phone number on their contact page and only has a fill-in contact form and email address.
- Receiving unsolicited emails that ask you to click a link or download an app to be granted access
- Don’t believe all encrypted sites are safe.
- Don’t make any financial business while using public Wi-Fi because it might not be secure.
- Don’t purchase from any seller who requires the use of wire transfer, gift cards, or prepaid cards for payment.
By being aware of these scams and taking the proper steps to protect yourself, you can ensure a safe and secure holiday season for you and your loved ones.
How to Avoid Holiday Scams
As the holidays approach, so do the scammers and thieves looking to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers. While it’s important to be mindful of your safety during this time of year, it’s also important to know how to identify and avoid holiday scams.
With the rise of online shopping, criminals have more opportunities to target consumers and take advantage of their generosity. Here are some tips on how to identify and avoid holiday scams.
1. Look for red flags in emails. Be wary of any emails from unknown senders that contain generic greetings and offers of discounts or free products. Additionally, double-check any emails with links or attachments, as these could be malicious.
2. Don’t fall for too good to be true deals. If an offer seems too good to be true, chances are it is. Before clicking on any links or downloading any files, make sure you research the company or product being offered and determine whether it is legitimate.
3. Double-check the URL of a website before you shop. Scammers can easily create fake websites that look almost identical to the real ones. Always double-check the URL of a website before making any purchases, as this will ensure you are shopping at a legitimate site.
4. Don’t give out personal information over the phone or online. Never provide your credit card number or other personal information over the phone or through email. Instead, only provide such information through secure websites or over the phone with companies that you trust.
5. Be aware of phishing attempts. Phishing scams are when criminals attempt to trick people into revealing their personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers, by pretending to be a legitimate company or individual. Be aware of any emails or messages requesting personal information and never respond to them.
6. Pay close attention to payment methods. Stick with well-known payment options such as credit cards and PayPal. Be wary of payments made via wire transfer or prepaid cards as these are typically associated with the fraud. Additionally, use strong passwords and two-factor authentication, when possible, to protect your personal information.
7. Consider investing in an all-in-one digital security solution. RealCall app is capable of smartly blocking spam calls and text messages behind your smartphone based on a database. Furthermore, users are also allowed to customize blocking items based on preferences and demands with top-rated identity theft protection and credit monitoring to keep your entire family safe.
By following these tips, you can help protect yourself and your loved ones from holiday scams and have a safe and enjoyable holiday season!
What to do if you’ve been scammed
Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to fall victim to holiday scams. As the holidays approach, scammers become increasingly active, targeting those who are looking to shop online or take advantage of special offers and deals. If you believe you’ve been the victim of a holiday scam, there are a few steps you can take:
- Contact your bank or financial institution immediately. They may be able to reverse the transaction or provide advice on what to do next.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and your local law enforcement authorities.
- Try to get your money back by filing a chargeback with your credit card issuer or using a service such as PayPal’s Purchase Protection program.
- Act against the person or business responsible for the scam by sending them a cease-and-desist letter.
- Spread awareness of the scam by sharing your experience online and warning others not to fall for it.
By being aware of the risks and taking steps to protect yourself, you can reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of a holiday scam.