By Kelly Martin-Papai, BSA Compliance Officer & Risk Manager
It's the time of year to enjoy all kinds of holiday festivities - parties, gift giving and travel. In the midst of all the fun, it's easy to get distracted and let your guard down. That's when fraudsters and scammers try to take advantage of your holiday spirit.
This time of year typically brings frequent online and in-store purchases. Whether you use a mobile app or a website - or do your shopping "in-person" be aware and diligent about "whom" you are purchasing goods and services from.
Here's a short list of some common seasonal swindles:
Social media scams
A current online shopping scam utilizes social media advertising. The scammers post an ad on social media using the name of a well-known retailer - but with a link to a fake online store. After clicking the link, you may do some shopping then provide your credit card information to make the purchase - but the scammer now has your data and your order will never arrive. To avoid this scam, go directly to a retailer's website instead of through social media ads.
They strike year-round, but especially near the holidays, criminals steal packages from the doorsteps or porches of homes, apartments and businesses. If you won't be home during the day or will be away for lengthy periods, coordinate your schedule with neighbor or have packages delivered to your workplace. Some communities offer to take deliveries and hold them for pick up at the local police station or administrative offices.
Shipment update messageFraudsters will send an e-mail with a fake notification of delivery failure or the request for updated shipping information. The message may look like it's coming from the original sender, but it contains a link with malware. Keep track of your orders and know what you have on the way. In addition, most retailers offer status updates on your orders, but you need to log into your account on their website
Donation and fake charities
People make a point of giving back this time of year and scammers know it. Similar to online retail scams, donation scams often try to replicate a charity website to convince you to donate money - which instead goes right to the criminal. When making a donation, make sure it's an organization you're familiar with - perhaps one you have contributed to before. If it's an organization that's new to you, do some online research to confirm that the charity is legitimate.
Here's are some additional "best practices" to keep your holiday shopping secure:
- Sign up for transaction alerts to monitor for unauthorized transactions.
- Pay attention to emails, links and websites - think before you click!
- Avoid entering card information on web forms, which could be hacked or contain malware. Instead, use your stored payment information when possible, such as Amazon Pay or PayPal.
- Ensure home computers, laptops and mobile devices are protected with antivirus, anti spyware and a firewall.
- Use well-known websites for online purchasing
- Review and monitor your accounts daily and report any discrepancies immediately.
- Using some common sense and taking precautions can minimize the chances you'll get scammed - and let your recover quickly if you do. As always, feel free to discuss your concerns or questions with a Cinfed employee.