While fraud can occur at any time of the year, it, unfortunately, becomes more popular during the holidays. This could be due to the hustle and bustle of the season and the fact that more people are shopping, especially online. Here is a list of the most common holiday scams and tips on protecting yourself.
Common Holiday Scams & Fraud Methods
Some of the most common holiday scams include:
1. Skimming is carried out by using electronic devices to secretly scan and store debit card and credit card PINs and numbers. This tactic is commonly used on fuel pumps at gas stations.
2. SMiShing (SMS phishing) is where scammers attempt to obtain your personal information via cell phone SMS text messages. The texts seem to be from a trustworthy entity, like a financial institution. They usually ask for personal information like account numbers and passwords and often ask you to click a link.
3. Phishing is the act of sending e-mails, acting as reputable companies, to get people to reveal their personal information, such as credit card numbers and passwords.
What to Do to Protect Your Identity from Holiday Scams
Some tips that could help protect you from holiday scams are:
1. Use Your Credit Card to Make Purchases Online
For most online purchases, credit cards provide you with extra purchasing protection. If you notice any unauthorized charges on your statements, then you can dispute those charges. You’ll want to check with your credit card provider to learn about the type of protections you have since they can vary by the financial institution.
2. Don’t Click on E-mail Links
Scammers often send out e-mail messages that look like a well-known company, such as PayPal, in an attempt to pretend to notify you of problems with your account. If you enter your password and username, the scammers then save your information and transfer your money into their foreign accounts. Beware, because these scams are common, and they look legitimate, but they’re not.
A good rule of thumb is to not click on links in e-mails. Instead, if you receive a notice requiring action, such as resetting your password, then visit the website directly. Log directly into your account and see if there are any notifications or actions required. It’s always safer to visit the website directly versus clicking links in e-mails.
3. Research Charities Before Donating
The holiday season and the end of the year are popular times to make charitable donations. But you’ll want to ensure any contribution you make actually goes to the charity and not into scammer’s hands. If somebody calls and asks you to donate to a certain charity, then tell them you’d like to research the charity first. Don’t let anyone make you feel rushed to make a donation. You want to ensure your gift is going where it counts.
It’s important to note that if a charity is asking you to donate via cryptocurrency, wire transfer, or gift cards, it’s most likely a scam.
4. Don’t Keep Checks in the Mailbox for Long
Unlocked mailboxes make easy targets for thieves. Bring checks to the post office, drop them in a locked mailbox, or hand them to the postal carrier. Don’t leave them sitting in your unlocked mailbox. You might even want to consider setting up online bill pay to reduce how many checks you write.
We’re Here to Help!
Stay safe this holiday season. Protect yourself from scams by avoiding clicking on links in e-mails and text messages that require you to reset your password or reactivate your account. This is also the perfect time to update your passwords on your financial accounts and any websites where your personal information is stored.
If you have questions about changing your password in Online Banking or Mobile Banking, then stop by any of our convenient branch locations or give us a call at 1-800-531-8456. We want you to have a safe and happy holiday season.
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Each individual’s financial situation is unique. We encourage you to contact United Texas Credit Union when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.