The holidays are a time for visiting with friends and family, being thankful for all we have, and unfortunately a time where buyers tend to be the most vunerable. Thanks to our friends at the Kentucky Bankers Assocation for compiling a list of the top seven scams you need to be aware of this holiday season.
1. Online Shopping Scams
Scammers often offer too-good-to-be-true deals through advertisements or phishing e-mails. Such schemes often offer brand-name merchandise at extremely low prices. Consumers should avoid untrustworthy sites or advertisements. A site you’re buying from should have “https” in the web address.
2. Social Media Scams
Consumers should beware of posts on social media sites that appear to offer vouchers or gifts cards through promotions or contests. These scams often lead consumers to participate in an online survey that is designed to steal personal information.
3. Gift Card Scams
Consumers should be careful if someone asks them to purchase a gift card for them through a fake e-mail, phone call or text. Always verify the identity of the person and the reason for the purchase through other mediums of communication. These incidents are often paired with a fraudulent wire transfer.
4. Charity Scams
Be wary of false charities requesting donations during the holiday season. Verify the charity through research as well as payment links. The solicitations can appear through any form of communication including social media, mail, e-mails, phone calls and texts.
5. Stolen Passwords
Many fraudsters will purchase items through your online shopping account from prior breaches of retailer websites. Change your passwords often, use different and complex passwords with characters, numbers and symbols and utilize multi-factor authentication when possible. Be wary if a company asks you to update your password or account info.
6. Payment Risks
Never wire money directly to a seller. Avoid paying for items with pre-paid gift cards. In these scams, a seller will ask you to send them a gift card number and PIN. Instead of using that gift card for your payment, the scammer will steal the funds, and you’ll never receive your item. Use a credit card when shopping online and check your statement regularly. If you see a suspicious transaction, contact your credit card company.
7. Foreign Transactions
Avoid sellers who act as authorized dealers or factory representatives of popular items in countries where there would be no such deals. Be wary of sellers who post an auction or advertisement as if they reside in the U.S., then respond to questions by stating they are out of the country on business, family emergency, or similar reasons. Avoid buyers who request their purchase be shipped using a certain method to avoid customs or taxes inside another country.
Remember, if the offer sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. The holidays are a time of giving but only from family and friends.