During the holiday season, it isn’t just the retailers who want your money. Scammers are looking to hack into your accounts to steal your cash or identity. Here are some common scams you should be aware of this holiday season:
Sham Order Confirmations: Victims receive an email that appears to be from a reputable retailer or a payment service like PayPal confirming a purchase. The scammers want you to react to the email by clicking on a link to dispute or cancel the order. If you receive an email like this and are concerned someone has gained access to your account, don’t click any links in the email. Instead, go directly to the retailer’s website, log into your account and check for any fraudulent activity.
Fake Shipping Notices: Victims receive an email purportedly from FedEx, UPS or the Post Office that notify recipients of a delayed shipment. The scammers want you to react to the email by clicking on a link to track the package which will then download a virus onto your computer. If you are expecting a package, visit the retailer’s website to receive tracking information, rather than clicking a link in an email. Be aware that there is an offline version of this scam where you may find an official-looking notice in your mailbox and you are asked to call a number to provide your credit card number or other personal information. Remember – anyone asking for that type of personal information is a red flag.
Email Scams: Be on the lookout for phishing emails. There are emails that are directing people to download apps on their phones that appear to be legitimate but they are collecting data from unsuspecting users. The best defense against phishing emails is to never click on links in an email.
Cloned Websites: It’s easy for scammers to clone websites to make you think you are on a trusted website. Sometimes the cloned websites ask you to log in and then redirect you to the real website so they can steal your log in credentials and make unauthorized purchases in the future. Always type in the retailers website in your browser versus clicking on a link.
Stealing Packages: Not all holiday scams happen online. Criminals still like to steal packages from front doors. If you aren’t home when packages are going to be delivered, consider having them delivered to your workplace or picking them up from the local UPS, FedEx, USPS stores.
Fake Charities: Be on the lookout for fake charities and fake GoFundMe pages. Don’t make phone donations to unsolicited callers.
Intercepted Data: Do not use public Wi-Fi networks to do your online holiday shopping because hackers can intercept data over public networks.
People tend to not pay close attention to their accounts and statements during the holiday season so a best practice is to keep a close eye on your accounts and immediately report any suspicious charges.