The holiday season is here, and that presents plenty of opportunities for scammers to spoil your celebrations. But with a little preparation and vigilance, you can cut down on the threat of becoming a victim.
How It Works
Scammers know a few things about us during the holiday season: we’re busy, and maybe a little stressed, and we tend to be in a charitable frame of mind. So they’ll take advantage of our lack of focus as well as our desire to help those in need to steal our money or our personal information.
What You Should Know
Scammers will set up fake websites or mobile apps that mimic those of known and trusted retailers, and offer items at a fraction of the usual cost. Their hope is you won’t notice the red flags (misspelled words, unencrypted websites, lack of information on returns, etc.), and you’ll jump to share your payment information.
Scammers send fake emails from delivery services about packages being held pending delivery. The email directs you to click on a link that asks for your credit card or other personal information. Since many of us expect deliveries this time of year, it’s easy to catch us off guard.
Legitimate charities make a big push at year-end for last-minute annual donations. Scammers know this, and make their own end-of-year push to line their pockets. They’re banking on us not taking the time to verify their legitimacy or noticing that the name of the charity isn’t quite right.
Thieves can hit store gift card racks, scan the numbers off the cards, and then monitor them. As soon as the card is bought and activated, the scammers drain the funds. By the time your gift recipient tries to use the card, the money is long gone.
What You Should Do
When shopping online or on a mobile app, make sure the retailer is who you think it is. And if a deal sounds too good to be true, it may indeed be a scam.
Avoid the gift card rack and, instead, safely purchase gift cards directly from the store clerk or buy them online directly from the retailer.
If you receive an email from a delivery company, closely review it — check the sender information, look for misspellings, and hover over the link with your mouse to see if it is really taking you to the delivery service’s website. Also, request signatures for deliveries to stop thieves from stealing packages from doorsteps.
Before donating this holiday season, check the charity at charitynavigator.org or give.org, and make sure the charity will use your donations for good.