6 Tips to Help You Avoid Holiday Scams This Festive Season

By Chika

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Last Updated: December 23, 2022

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The holidays are a time for joy, time off from work, and spending time with family, but they may also carry with them extra stress - and holiday scams.

A great target for identity theft or frauds may be you if you're straining your money to pay for gifts, having trouble making travel arrangements, or under pressure to finish everything before taking a few days off.

The holiday season is particularly conducive for identity thieves and fraudsters, who rely on the sense of haste and scarcity that surrounds online shopping at this time of year. Scammers are always on the hunt.

Despite the risks, there are steps you can take to avoid being a victim of holiday scams or having your personal information exposed.

 

 

6 Tips to Help You Avoid Holiday Scams This Festive Season

1. Be Vigilant When Shopping Online

According to the 2022 Business Bureau Institute Online Scams Report, online shopping frauds were the riskiest kind of scams in 2021. These frauds are not only the most prevalent, but they also have the highest probability of causing their victims to lose money.

To prevent online purchasing frauds, go by the following advice:

  • Markets online need to be avoided. Avoid using online stores like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, NextDoor, and others, or shop with extra caution. You won't be given the same purchasing protections when using cash or a credit card to make a direct purchase from a person.
  • Utilize traceable payment techniques. Gift cards, cryptocurrencies, or wire transfers are all warning signs that the purchase can be fraudulent. Instead, using a peer-to-peer payment software with purchase safeguards, like PayPal or Venmo, may be preferable.
  • Be wary of bargains that seem too good to be true. Highly sought-after goods offered at unexpectedly cheap costs are a major red flag for online shopping fraud. Scammers build websites with accurate lists of in-demand, hard-to-find goods, including gaming consoles. After you complete your purchase, you could discover that all you ever get is an order confirmation.

 

2. Protect Your Passwords

Before the holidays, take the time to think about the security of your accounts to help reduce the likelihood that they will be compromised. Here are some tips to keep your accounts safe:

  • Use a different password for every account you have.

 If it sounds like too much work, at least make your bank accounts' passwords distinctive and challenging to guess. Setting up a password manager, even a free one, makes this simple.

  • Activate two-factor authentication

Where practical, enable multifactor authentication (again, prioritizing financial accounts) (MFA). This security measure makes it necessary for you to go through an additional step to confirm your identity before you can log in, and it could keep your data secure if your account's password is stolen.

 

3. Check for Card Skimming Devices

When buying at a store, look out for any card-skimming equipment that could be connected to an ATM or card reader.

According to statistics from the FICO Card Alert Service, card skimming theft increased shockingly by 759% in the first half of 2022 compared to the previous year.

In this kind of fraud, the con artist connects a skimmer to a card reader. Skimmers can be so little that they are difficult to spot, allowing your transaction to go normally. Without your knowledge, the gadget copies the data from your card so it may be used or sold in the future.

Even EMV-chipped cards can be "shimmed." The more secure methods of payment include cash or contactless methods like digital wallets on phones or tap-to-pay cards.

 

4. Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi When Shopping Online

While you're out and about, it might be tempting to check off a few things on your list. But public Wi-Fi networks might not be safe.

Even if you use a VPN to protect some of your data, it's still better to avoid utilizing public networks to access your accounts or make purchases.

 

5. Avoid Get-Rich-From-Home Job Ads

You may see ads about ways to "make $1,500 a week working from home". It seems quite simple, and the additional cash may surely come in handy around the holidays. But you can unwittingly be taking part in a criminal organization.

You can be requested to act as a money or reshipping mule by transferring money between accounts or by receiving packages and reshipping them somewhere. You could find yourself at the center of a scam scheme in any situation. Or you could end up being charged with a crime even if you aren't doing it intentionally.

 

6. Verify Requests for Donations

Scammers could profit from people's generosity over the holidays.

They frequently utilize spoofing technologies to make it appear as though an actual charity is sending the email or making the phone call while acting as representatives for philanthropic organizations. But the money will go right into the fraudster's pocket, not utilized to aid others.

When you're ready to make a gift, visit an organization's website to locate a reliable phone number or online donation option. This will prevent fraudsters from ruining your generosity. You may also research a charity on websites like Charity Navigator and Charity Watch if you're dubious about it.

 

 

Final Words on Holiday Scams

The chance of being a victim of identity theft and fraud increases over the Christmas season. Particularly when you finish your shopping list among the chaos of the season.

You may finish your Christmas shopping and enjoy yourself while staying safe from fraud and identity theft by taking the aforementioned safeguards.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

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