You’re not the only one kicking things into high gear this time of year. “Naughty elves” are heating up their efforts to steal private financial data from unsuspecting shoppers by masquerading as trusted companies. The criminals behind these schemes are using tactics to trick consumers into gifting them bank account credentials, credit card details and other sensitive information.
Learn how to protect your finances from holiday scams and send fraudsters on their merry way – empty-handed.
Many people open their hearts as well as their wallets during the holidays, feeling more generous or even looking to add another deduction to their tax returns. Crooks hope you’ll donate to their fake nonprofits promising to feed, clothe and provide support to those in need. They’ll often use names and logos that sound and look similar to the ones belonging to legitimate organizations in order to convince donors to give them money. But of course, these con artists have no intention of sharing funds with those who need them.
How to Avoid a Charity Scam
Be wary when you are on the receiving end of high-pressure phone calls, emails, or text messages claiming that your donation must be made immediately. Charity scams often request payments be made via wire transfer, gift card, or another difficult-to-trace method.
Don’t give money to unfamiliar organizations without doing your research. Visit websites like Charity Navigator1 and Charity Watch1 to learn more about legitimate nonprofit organizations and how they use donations. If you’re unsure whether the person claiming to represent a nonprofit is being truthful, trust your gut. You can always give to your desired charity by clicking the donations tab on the organization’s own webpage.
Seasonal Job Scams
It’s common for people to look for ways to earn extra cash to pay for holiday expenses, and crooks know that retailers often hire temporary workers. Pretending to be representing real companies, scammers will post fake employment opportunities so they can steal personal information from applicants.
Their fake ads and websites encourage job seekers to input their complete names, full dates of birth, Social Security numbers and other details that the crooks use to create new identities. Once they have this information, they can sell it to other fraudsters or use it to open up new credit accounts.
How to Avoid a Seasonal Job Scam
Never follow links that claim to direct you to a job application. Instead, visit the website by typing the URL directly into your browser. If the application you reach requests unusual information, like mortgage loan details, exit the application and contact the company by telephone about the position. You may have landed on a fake website.
Letter from Santa Scams
Seeing the surprise on a child’s face when he or she receives a letter from Santa warms the hearts of parents and caregivers around the world. The Greetings from Santa1 program is a real service provided by the United States Postal Service. Sadly, scammers pretend to offer similar letters so they can collect and sell your personal information.
How to Avoid a Letter from Santa Scam
While other reputable businesses besides the USPS offer letters and packages from Santa, it’s hard to know which ones are fake. Start by ignoring unsolicited emails that encourage you to click on hyperlinks to pay for the service. You can also search the Better Business Bureau1 website for complaints about the service. Read about what others have said by entering the name of the company plus “scam” or “review” into Google before you hand over your information.
As more people use delivery services during the holidays to ensure presents arrive before Christmas day, scammers are ramping up their efforts to deceive households with phony missed delivery notifications. Victims of this scam report receiving an email or text message informing them they missed a delivery from one of the major shipping companies. In this dishonest initiative, when you click the link provided in the email or text it leads to what is later determined to be a phony webpage that requires credit card or banking details to be entered in order to reschedule the delivery.
How to Avoid a Package Scam
The package scam can be hard to detect since links to fake websites usually include stolen logos and other information found on the real websites. If you receive an unexpected notification, visit the shipping company’s official website. Each one has a webpage dedicated to helping consumers determine whether a notification is phony and what you can do about it.
Don’t let thieves steal your holiday joy – or your money. Instead, freeze them out of your finances by staying alert – and even a bit suspicious – in order to avoid seasonal scams.
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Extra Credit provides general information to help improve our Member’s financial lives. Every situation is different, so please contact us for guidance on your specific needs. The advice provided in Extra Credit is not intended to serve as a substitute for speaking to a loan representative, financial advisor, or GreenPath Financial advisor who can help tailor a solution for you.