Dec 14 – Most of us plan all year long on how much we will spend for the holidays not knowing at the time scammers are practicing and preparing. In the 2020 holiday season, A unit in the FBI Called Crime Complaint Center (IC3.gov) received more than 17,000 complaints. Most of those complaints were regarding non-delivery of goods, which led to a loss of 53 million. The FBI expects the number to increase this holiday season due to rumors of merchandise shortages and the pandemic.

A list of the most common holiday scams, according to the Better Business Bureau:

  • Misleading social media ads: These can include ads for items that are never sent, counterfeit items and being charged for free trials you never agreed to. The bureau said to visit BBB.org to check out reviews and a business’ profile before you buy.
  • Social media gift exchanges: It’s a riff on the old chain letter, where you send something like a $10 gift and supposedly reap a pyramid of presents in return. Or you submit your email to a list where folks send money to others to “pay it forward.” There’s now even a “Secret Santa Dog” scam.
  • Holiday-themed apps: Look into the apps that let your child talk to Santa, for example. Some are legitimate, but you need to read privacy policies to see what information is being gathered. Look for reviews. Some may contain malware. Ho Ho hope not.
  • Reports of compromised accounts: The bureau’s scam tracker has heard of malicious actors claiming that popular payment accounts like PayPal, Amazon or a bank have been compromised. By email, phone call or text, consumers are warned about suspicious activity and prompted to protect themselves by logging in. Be careful.
  • Free gift cards: Supposedly, all you have to do is provide personal information so you can receive the gift. Don’t even open the email. Definitely don’t click any links.
  • Holiday job offers: Everyone knows retailers hire more help during the holidays, but be careful. What’s packaged as opportunity may be an excuse to steal money and personal information. Vet holiday job offers diligently.
  • Look-alike websites: Be careful of links within emails. Hover over them with your cursor to see where they reroute. Pay attention to URLs.
  • Fake charities: The bureau reports that 40% of all charitable donations come in near the end of the year. Because COVID-19 canceled so many fundraising activities, genuine charities may seek donations online. Crooks absolutely do. Watch out for fraudulent charities and scammers pretending to be individuals in need. Check out a charity at Give.org or on the Canada Review Agency site. If you want to donate online, go directly to the organization’s website. Pay with a credit card.
  • Fake package tracking: Scammers sometimes send fake shipping details and confirmations with links. Clicking on them may enable malware to infest your computer or provide scammers with access to your private information.
  • Bogus virtual event charges: As some holiday events, such as craft fairs, have moved online, scammers have followed and started selling fake tickets. They’re after credit card information, so ask the organizer if the event has a fee. If so, pay with a credit card.
  • Super-low prices on high-end items: You might have stumbled on a deal. But it’s more likely that very low-priced jewelry item, piece of designer clothing or electronic gadget is counterfeit or a cheap knockoff. The bureau said to be especially careful when buying popular items like Baby Yoda or game consoles through social media sites.
  • Puppy scams: If you’re considering adding a fur kid to the family this holiday season, see the barker before you bite. Pet scams are on the rise.

Scammers target any one no matter the background, age or income level across America. Not one person is more likely to get scammed than another, it could happen to all of us and has from time to time.

Scams can look real and can take you for a spin when you’re least expecting it. Scammers along with technology are getting smarter, creating believable stories about new products or services that will convince you to give your money or personal data. So Be Aware this holiday season.

References:

Leave a Reply