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Beware of Holiday Scams

As the holiday season rolls around again, scammers are working extra hard with the increase in online payments and web traffic.  

Last year, nearly 75% of consumers in America were victim to at least one type of holiday scam. Americans lost over $6.9 billion to scammers, including $337 million in online shopping and non-delivery scams, according to the FBI.

Scammers take advantage of the holiday season to target you — whether you’re shopping for gifts online, tracking packages or trying to donate to charities. Most scams are variations on everyday fraud, ramped up to match seasonal spikes in spending and web traffic.

With the increased spending during the holidays, scammers capitalize on that and prey on shoppers with fake websites, social media campaigns, text messages and more.

Not surprisingly, they often focus on online shopping. After the pandemic, more and more consumers turned to online shopping and those numbers rise especially during holiday shopping.

Falling prey to any of these scams can be financially devastating and often leads to money that cannot be recovered. Protect yourself this holiday season by knowing what to look for, what to avoid and how to verify legitimate businesses/organizations.

5 Scams to Look Out For

Fake Charities

Scammers take advantage of your generosity during the holiday season and create fake charities, GoFundMe campaigns and other charitable activities.

Any hard-sell tactics or pressure to donate right away should cause immediate concern and raise a red flag. Charities should encourage any donations on your own time.

Be sure to research any charity before you donate. You can use Charity Navigator, a nonprofit that rates charities based on financial health, accountability and transparency.

Fraudulent Advertisements

Holiday scammers create ads on search engines like Google and social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok that link to fake stores or websites.

With the overwhelming traffic online due to shopping, hackers have manipulated ad links on Google. If you click on one of the malicious links, it will redirect you to another site that makes it seem like your computer has been compromised.  

Don’t assume a site or store is legitimate just because you saw it on social media. Instead, always look for warning signs indicating that you’ve been taken to a fake or malicious online store. 

Gift Cards

Scammers love gift cards because they’re almost impossible to trace. Many holiday scams revolve around buying and selling fraudulent gift cards. Make sure to only purchase gift cards from reputable retailers.

With supply chain issues, it’s been estimated that gift cards will be a more popular choice for gifts this year. Gift cards are the most prevalent payment method for scams, with about one in four people who report fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) saying they paid with a gift card.

Phishing Emails/Texts

Phishing emails and texts pose as companies or government agencies that you know and trust. Scammers send phishing messages claiming to be from companies like Amazon or Apple and offer special discounts or claim that your account has been hacked.

Any text or email that you did not request should be treated with caution. If that same text or email contains a strange link, be sure not to click on it. The most obvious signs of a phishing scam are spelling errors, bad grammar and formatting issues.

Package Delivery Scams

With many Americans taking advantage of the convenience of tracking their packages via text message, scammers have become creative with new package delivery scams.

One recent scam involves fraudsters sending fake delivery notification text messages, in hopes that you’ll click on the link. These scam texts will take you to a fake website designed to either steal your personal information, ask for your credit card number, or fool you into sending the scammers money.

If you receive a message about an unexpected package delivery, or delay in delivery, always be cautious before moving forward. When in doubt, contact the courier directly for accurate information about your deliveries.


EFCU Financial Is Here For You

An important rule of thumb to follow is that if it seems too good to be true then it probably is. Get into the habit of checking your online banking and account activity on a daily basis. If you think that you’ve been a victim of fraud this holiday season, acting fast is crucial. Contact us at 225-214-6800