Holiday scams capitalize on the increase in online shopping, travel, and charitable giving during the holiday season by trying to trick you into giving up money, gift cards, or sensitive information. These also prey on people’s tendencies of wanting to “do good” during the holiday season.
Common Holiday Scams to Be Aware Of:
- Fake Charities – a fake charity gets set up by an individual to receive donations. Payments are typically sent via p2p platforms like Venmo, Paypal, Zelle, etc. You can check out the BBB’s “Standards for Charity Accountability” website at http://www.bbb.org/us/standards-for-charity-accountability/or visit give.org.
- Gift Card Scams – victims are instructed to purchase gift cards and state that they are for holiday gifts to lower suspicion. This scam could be a fake boss asking a person to buy gift cards or part of a computer virus, IRS taxes, etc. Gift cards may be requested as a payment of stolen or fake items.
- Fake seasonal job offers – fraudsters will post fake job offers online. Usually they are easy to do, work from home opportunities with little or no requirements and decent pay. Fraudsters prey on individuals that need extra money for the holiday season, or those down on their luck in general. Fake job offers are used to steal identities or sensitive bank information.
- Lookalike Stores/Popular Gifts – these may be social media posts promoting low prices on high-ticket items. This could include hacked social media accounts of friends and family. Promotions will typically have a sense of urgency like “buy now, sale ends in 10 minutes.” Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Items sold for cheap could either be fake, stolen or even nonexistent.
Before you buy online, be sure that you are actually sending your money to the company in lieu of a service or product – and that you’re not sending your financial and personal details to a scammer. For some time now, thieves have developed often sophisticated websites that look and “act” like the “real thing” – fake websites for major retailers and known brands. Type in the URL for the company, as opposed to opening a link from an email.
When shopping in public, be aware as thieves take advantage of preoccupied people. When making your payment, cover your charge cards and the keypad when entering your PIN, so thieves can’t simply look over your shoulder and steal your info. Keep your cards close to your body and in a safe place to avoid your wallet being snatched. And be careful if storing bags in your car while shopping. Parking lot burglary is common during the holiday season.
Remember to do your homework before you buy and scrutinize your charities. If you are ever suspicious of any transaction that you believe could be fraudulent, you can always reach out to Core Bank and get a second set of eyes to look at it with you. That could be the Fraud team, a Banking Center Manager, or another staff member. We want you to have a happy holiday season!
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