As you gear up for upcoming holiday festivities, scammers are preparing to take advantage of your cheerful disposition and panicked shopping trends. ‘Grinch’ like characters will be coming out of the woodwork to try to steal your holiday funds and personal information. With the rise in online shopping and advertising, there are major red flags to be on the lookout for before you share any of your personal information or funds.
Keep your money safe by reading up on the most common scams to watch out for during the mad dash this holiday season.
The holidays often prompt us to be grateful for what we have and generous to those less fortunate. Unfortunately, many scammers will capitalize on the goodwill of others by asking for donations to support organizations that don’t actually exist. Scammers will use tactics such as cold calls, crowdfunding platforms, fake social media accounts, and email campaigns to trick holiday givers out of their hard-earned cash.
But don’t be afraid to donate to charitable organizations! Simply do your due diligence to ensure you aren’t falling victim to these naughty-list regulars. You can verify the authenticity of a charity by doing some online research.
PRO TIP: Verify potential organizations by using trusted sources such as give.org…
Shopping and Delivery Scams
Research company Ipsos’ 2021 holiday survey found that two-thirds of consumers expect to buy gifts mostly online this season as we continue to navigate the effects of the pandemic. While you are browsing for deals, scammers are hoping for a ‘steal.’ This is commonly attempted online using phishing emails.
Scammers will send you advertisements for “unbelievable deals,” fake security warnings about your accounts, and false package delivery notifications in hopes that you will fill out your information on their online form. They aim to get your private information as well as your money this holiday season.
To avoid being caught in a scammer’s trap make sure to check these things twice:
- Check for typos both in the message and in the organization name or website. They may have added an extra letter somewhere less conspicuous to try to look like a well-known brand or organization.
- Organization information. Legitimate websites will have the following information for the public to access at any time.
- Contact: Phone, address, and email
- The “s” after “HTTP” in the web address. Websites that start with “HTTPS” are much more secure than sites without the “s” at the end.
Also, don’t forget many customers have their deliveries stolen during the holiday season. So, if possible, arrange for a delivery that requires a signature, or when shopping on Amazon have packages sent to an Amazon Hub. If none of those options are available, be sure to track the whereabouts of your package and plan so you or a friend can retrieve your shipment shortly after it’s delivered.
If you are hoping to visit family out of town or escape the cold Montanan winter this season, scammers may target you with too-good-to-be-true offers to a dreamy far-off destination. Beware of phony travel sites, exclusive email offers, and social media giveaways. Dig a little deeper to verify some basic details.
If you suspect you’ve encountered a social media scam, check the account’s public information. See if their followers are real people, check the type of content they are tagged in, and be very hesitant to follow any links to unknown places that require your information.
Seasonal Employment Scams
Are you looking to make some extra cash before the end of the year? Lots of businesses are hiring seasonal workers to get them through the busy holidays. Scammers take this opportunity to pose as employees or recruiters for recognized businesses and post help-wanted ads on social media platforms and popular websites highlighting great pay and benefits. They will ask you for personal information to apply for the job and then ghost you once they have what they want from you.
So, if you’re looking for a seasonal job, apply in-person or directly on a business’s website. Do not send photos of your Government ID or Social Security number. Remember that employers will only require that information if they choose to hire you. They do not need it to contact you for an interview.
If you are a victim of an online scam
- Report your experience to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online with the FTC complaint assistant, or by phone at 1-877-382-4357
- Report the activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at IC3.gov
- Report the scam to Montana state officials at https://dojmt.gov/consumer/
- Contact your financial institution immediately upon discovering any fraudulent or suspicious activity and direct them to stop or reverse the transactions.
- Consider freezing your credit.
Montana’s credit unions are another great resource for keeping your money safe. Our credit unions are here for you – today, tomorrow, throughout the holidays, and beyond. You can feel safe knowing that your account is insured up to $250,000 and we have the latest security to keep your money safe and available. Learn more at openyoureyesmt.com or find a credit union near you today!