‘Tis the season for holiday shopping – and unfortunately, the scams that come along with it! As much as we look forward to the holidays, scammers enjoy this time of year even more as they plan ways to steal your money and personal information. To protect yourself from identity theft and reduce your chance of being victimized this holiday season, be vigilant and look out for these 6 scams.
Scam #1: Look-Alike Websites – Many consumers will see an increase in the number of emails announcing deals, gifts and sales. While mailers look legitimate, the links may lead to look-alike websites that are meant to trick you into providing your private information.
What You Can Do: Look for “https” in the web address and a locked padlock icon on the left side of the URL to make sure a website is secure.
Scam #2: Social Media Gift Exchange – A “Secret Santa” with your coworkers, friends and family is fun, but an online gift exchange with people you haven’t met is one you should not participate in. Purchasing a gift and receiving several in return may sound harmless, but this seasonal scam is a pyramid scheme you should avoid.
What You Can Do: Ignore it and report it! If you receive an invitation to join a gift exchange on social media, you can report it by selecting “report post”.
Scam #3: Grandparent Scams – Scammers pose as a panicked grandchild or other family member in trouble, claiming they have been in an accident, arrested, hospitalized or another urgent issue. The circumstance often requires money be sent immediately to resolve the problem.
What You Can Do: Verify the caller’s identity by asking questions that a stranger wouldn’t know the answers to. And better yet, contact the relative the scam artist is claiming to be at a phone number you or another family member already has for this person to verify the details of the story.
Scam #4: Fake Shipping Notifications – Delivery notifications can often be expected throughout the holiday season, but scammers will send false notification emails often using a legitimate business name and logo to trick you into opening the email.
What You Can Do: To avoid thieves gaining access to your personal information, call the delivery service to verify the notification.
Scam #5: Unusual Forms of Payments – Is someone asking you to pay with an iTunes or Amazon gift card? Or telling you to wire money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram? Don’t do it. Scammers ask you to pay in ways that let them get the money fast and make it nearly impossible to get back.
What You Can Do: Use a credit card instead of a debit card since any purchases with credit aren’t linked to your bank account. Check your credit card and bank eStatements routinely and sign up for online and mobile banking to closely monitor your accounts. And remember to enable live updates to receive mobile alerts in the app you trust to manage your finances.
Scam 6: Fake Charities – Making a donation to a charity is a holiday tradition for many families – it’s an important time of the year to share with people in need. Sadly, perpetrators use the holiday season to set up false charities to take advantage of your good will. Scammers may divert some or all of the funds for their personal use and those less fortunate may never see the donation.
What You Can Do: Beware of organizations with names similar to reputable charities. Review the charity’s website and see if it uses .org as most legitimate charity websites do. Use the Charity Navigator to make sure you are dealing with a known and trusted charity before you donate. Make contributions directly and pay via credit card or check. Avoid cash donations, if possible.
IF YOU BECOME A VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT:
- Contact your bank and explain that your identity or personal data may have been compromised. The more information you provide, the more they can help you.
- Report an identity theft incident to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov.
For more tips to help protect your personal information, check out our other blogs on Privacy & Cybersecurity and visit the Lakeland Bank identity theft information center. If you believe your personal information has been compromised or you think you are a victim of identity theft, we’re here to help! Contact us at 866-224-1379.