Thanksgiving may be over, but just because you put away your “Thanksgiving pants,” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare yourself for the next wave of holiday madness coming your way.
From online shopping to searching for holiday jobs to giving to the less fortunate, our good deeds are like a double-edged sword. Scammers have caught on to our holiday habits and are using it to their advantage but unfortunately, it’s also to our demise. Here are a few scams you should keep an eye out for this holiday season that will help you gain back the upper hand:
The holidays are a time for giving, and as we plan to make generous donations, you may have already been victim to a number of requests from a variety of “organizations”. Unfortunately, charity scams have seen a 50% increase from November 2015 to November 2016.
Scammers are disguising themselves as “charities” to take advantage of you while you’re in the giving spirit. They will either request personal or financial information (which legitimate charities will never ask for) and most likely a small percentage (if you’re lucky) or none of your donation will go to the cause you are trying to help.
Gift Card Scam
We’re all familiar with gift card scammers tricking us into paying past due bills and overdue taxes with gift cards but during the holiday season, it’s all about tricking us into selling them our unwanted gift cards.
There are a variety of gift card scams out there and because of them, it’s not a surprise that from October 2015 to October 2016, there was a 58.19% increase and from January 2016 to October 2016 alone there was a 43.21% increase in the scam.
Gift cards are a simple yet easy gift, but we don’t always get the ones we ask for. Just about everything sells online including gift cards and this holiday season we’re likely to do just that. When making an offer on a gift card, scammers will demand the seller confirm the balance on the card by calling the merchant on a three-way call. While the seller enters the gift card number, the scammer records the touch-tone numbers entered to intercept the gift card number. Then, scammers will use the gift card without paying for it. Make sure to sell unwanted gift cards to reputable gift card resellers, or to a gift card exchange kiosk (i.e. Coinstar.)
Holiday (Vacation) Scam
Who can resist a vacation, but even more who can resist a “FREE” holiday vacation! It’s apparent that the word “FREE’ has been getting the best of us since these types of scams have gone up 69% from October 2015 to November 2016.
A majority of vacation scams start with a phone call promising an unbelievable prize from a raffle or survey you may (or may not) have entered. As you rack your brain wondering what you may have unknowingly entered, you can’t help but feel that what they’re offering is too good to be true. If you’re getting that gut feeling, it probably is.
Package Delivery Scam
It’s always a wonderful surprise to find a package from Uncle Bob or Aunt Sue on your front porch during the holiday season, but don’t let the flood of gifts catch you off-guard when you get a text telling you that you have a package “waiting” for you.
These types of “packages” can come as a notice claiming you’ve won a prize, or a SMiShing link that you’ve received a package and all you have to do is “click the link” to find the status of its delivery. Don’t fall for it! Scammers are taking advantage of your gift-receiving vulnerability to get you to click on links that will download software to help them steal your personal and financial information.
Online Shopping Scam
We know that despite it being the time of giving, gifts can add up. So, when we can find a killer deal on something, we tend to seize the opportunity. However, when these opportunities seem too good to be true, know that they usually are.
From social media to Craigslist, scammers are reeling in victims with deals they know shoppers won’t want to miss. They request payment and before the buyer can receive what they’ve paid for, the seller has already run with their money before victims realize they’ve been had. Do your due diligence and shop from accredited stores or make sure you know who you’re wheeling and dealing with before you hand over your whole holiday budget.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t only happen during the holiday season but all year round. However, during the holidays, a number of us are looking to make some extra cash with seasonal jobs. Due to popular demand, scammers are creating fake job listings to swipe personal and financial information from unknowing job candidates by requesting social security numbers and bank account numbers and conducting fake background checks.
If you ever receive these types of calls or feel you’re being victimized, it’s best to hang up the phone and do some research on the organization. Call the organization directly to make sure that it is a legitimate business. If the call was a scam, report the call to the FCC.