One thing that isn't so jolly about the holiday season is how fraud attempts escalate between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day. The start of the 2019 holiday season saw nearly a 30% increase in online fraud. Unfortunately, these types of spikes are typical for this time of year, but there are things you can do and to be aware of to help keep your finances protected.
Nothing brings out our desire to score the hottest and newest gift or gadget quite like the holidays - and scammers know it. Shopping online has become increasingly popular, with consumers opting to skip the lines and the cold, and shop from the comfort of their home. Online shopping can put you at a higher risk for fraud, but there are ways you can protect your personal information on the web. Remember, if you enter your credit card information to purchase a popular gift you see advertised, say on social media, you could really be giving cons all of the information they need to go on their own holiday shopping sprees. Be sure you do your research before purchasing from pop-up adds or social media adds. If you don’t recognize the name of the retailer, enter it online with terms like ‘scam’ or ‘complaint’ to see if it’s legitimate. Read the reviews before purchasing your selected item. And always save your digital receipts in case there is an issue down the road.
A popular holiday scheme is often found right in your email inbox. Be on the lookout for emails that appear to be from FedEx, UPS or the USPS that ask you to fill out forms with financial details in order to have a package delivered. If there is a package waiting for you at the post office, USPS will leave a notice in your mailbox; FedEx and UPS will also leave notices at your home; they will not request financial details via email. If you're in doubt, track the shipping of your item through the shipping code you received at checkout and contact the delivery carrier directly if you see any issues.
Fraudulent Gift Cards:
Oh, gift cards. It's the gift that we love to give when we don't know what to give, and often it is what we truly love to receive. But be careful. Scammers can write down the codes from gift cards and deplete the balances before the gift can be enjoyed. They do this by scratching off the code's covering, copying down the code, and then placing the card back on the shelf. So, when you're shopping for gift cards this year, be sure you check the back of the card and ensure that the code is still completely covered. Also, you should purchase gift cards from reputable retailers. Be sure you keep your receipt as proof of purchase, just in case there is an issue.
This is a scam to be on the lookout for all the time, not just during the holidays. But since people do tend to shop or go out more during this time of year, spikes in skimming are often seen as a result.
Skimming is basically when a scammer downloads the information from the magnetic strip on your card through technology, granting them access to your account and your money.
To keep your data on your cards safe, you can:
- Buy a card sleeve or RFID wallet that blocks RFID transmissions
- Stack your cards together to mitigate some of the scanner's ability to read information
- Keep your debit and credit cards in sight during transactions
- Cover the keypad when you enter your PIN at the ATM or retail terminal
- You can always opt to leave your cards at home and only use cash in public places