While the holiday season is typically regarded as a time to show goodwill towards others, scammers use increased shopping traffic, holiday travel, and consumer generosity to take advantage of well-meaning individuals. As you prepare for the holidays, here is a list of common scams to watch out for to ensure you and your family have a merry, Grinch-free Christmas and a happy New Year.
Too Good to be True Online Discounts
If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Beware new websites offering unrealistic deals on merchandise. You could pay for a product you never receive, or give personal information that can be used by scammers to steal your identity. Also avoid opening unsolicited emails offering deals as they could infect your computer with malicious software designed to steal your information.
When shopping online, look for a green padlock icon at the top or bottom of your browser. This indicates that the site is encrypted and secure. Use sites that require two-factor identification and complex passwords. When paying for products, never wire money. Reputable sites have a secured method for transactions onsite, or use PayPal.
Christmas time is known as the season for giving, and this is especially true for donations to charitable organizations. While there are many worthy causes that you can support, there are also scammers intending to take advantage of generous consumers by imitating charities.
Before donating to a charity, research online to determine that the charity is legitimate. Also when making a donation, it is preferable to use a check or credit card; if the charity is fraudulent, it will be easier to recoup your money than if you use cash or wire money.
Seasonal Employment Scams
It is common during the holiday season for businesses to hire seasonal help to assist with the increased traffic. Scammers will take advantage of people eager for employment by offering jobs where you are required to invest money to start, or pay training fees. Look out for jobs that advertise “no experience necessary,” and “work from home.”
Social Media Hacks
Just like in real life, you should be cautious when it comes to strangers on social media. Avoid accepting friend requests from people you don’t know, or people that you’re already friends with as these may be scammers looking to install malware on your computer or device.
Also avoid announcing when you won’t be home, such when you’re going on vacation, as this tells people when it’s safe to burglarize your home.
Suspicious Smartphone Apps
Unfortunately, free apps on your smartphone have become another vehicle used by scammers to collect your information and cause damage. Before downloading an app, research online and a read third-party reviews to ensure that the app is genuine. Scammers have also successfully used altered versions of popular apps to infect smartphones, so if you have any doubts, don’t download.
Be careful and stay safe this holiday season. Click here to learn more about how First Reliance can assist you if you suspect you have been the victim of fraud.