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November 15, 2022 | By christa

Stay Safe During the Holidays by Avoiding these Common Scams

According to the FBI’s 2021 crime report, Americans lost over $6.9 billion to scams last year, which included $337 million in online shopping and non-delivery scams.

During the holiday season, these scams increase ten-fold as bad actors aim to capitalize on things like increased online gift shopping, charity donations, and people searching for seasonal jobs.

Many times, a scammer is ultimately hoping you’ll send payment in the form of money, gift cards, or even cryptocurrency. In other instances, a scammer might be trying to retrieve sensitive information from you. This is called phishing, and can do more damage than sending money directly.

Below, we will decipher some of the most common holiday scams so you can stay protected during the holidays.

Fake Charities

We all love the act of giving during the holidays, which often includes donating to our favorite charities. Unfortunately, scammers also love your holiday spirit and generosity. Don’t let them trick you into giving money to bogus causes.

Charity scams can be incredibly hard to pinpoint, but there are a few things to stay on the lookout for:

GoFundMe Campaigns – most people looking to raise money these days opt for a GoFundMe campaign, particularly because the platform guarantees refunds if a fundraiser turns out to be a scam. However, there are some fraudulent campaigns that still fall between the cracks. Be sure to check out the description, outside sources, and take notice of donor comments before sending any money.

Non-existent charities – always double-check URLs before donating. Scammers will use slight variations of popular charities to trick you into sending money. Also stay vigilant of vague language or threatening messages as legit charities will not threaten you.

Gift Card Scams

Gift card scams are especially popular among fraudsters because they are easy to send and incredibly difficult to trace. If someone sends you an email, DM, or text message asking you to complete a payment in the form of a gift card, run fast.

Moreover, if someone requests that you make an additional payment to “protect your money” don’t fall for it. You’re experiencing a scam.

Fake Holiday Emails and Deals

Your email inbox is blasted with emails during the holidays. And while many of these emails will be from stores offering great deals and savings, some can be rather malicious. Phishing emails are an extremely common form of digital scams. These emails will often look similar to or impersonate another well-known organization, so it’s important to always be on the lookout before clicking a link. If you aren’t sure about the authenticity of an email, you’ll want to check several details:

  • Are there any grammatical or punctuation errors? An email coming from a professional source will be heavily edited and refined.
  • Does the email address look legitimate? You’ll want to check for any misspellings or oddities in the address. If possible, compare the email address to any previous emails this person may have sent you in the past.
  • Is it too good to be true? The holiday season can be a time of magic and miracles, but those typically won’t show up in your inbox. If something seems to be too good to be true, then it probably is. Remember: if you’re getting something for free then there should be no need for a credit card or bank account number.

Scam Text Messages

You may have experienced (or heard of) the common scam that says your package delivery has been delayed and includes a link for you to click on. Digital scams are extremely common during the holidays, so be sure to keep your eye out for several red flags:

  • Receive a message with a short code (e.g., 4-5 digits vs. the common 6-digit verification codes.
  • Get a message with vague information (e.g., no order number, company name, etc.)
  • See a link in a message asking you to verify information.

When in doubt, contact the company directly without using any provided links in the message to verify any suspicious information you’ve received via SMS.

Key Takeaways

Holidays are a time of giving. Unfortunately, there are people out there trying to trick you into giving to them. Take steps to protect yourself. If you’re unsure about what to do, contacting a specialist such as LeadingIT can be a great place to start.

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