5 Tips to Protect Yourself From Holiday Scams

The year has flown by. The holidays are upon us. People are starting to plan their Thanksgiving meal and mulling over what to get Uncle Ed for Christmas. Time to spend time with friends and family, relax and enjoy the spirit of the season.  Unfortunately, we must also stay vigilant to those pesky holiday scammers and their wanton ways.  They prey upon the fact that we’ve let down our guard and aren’t paying attention to the details of that email that just came in or that we’re filled with the holiday spirit and willing to give.

Be Wary of Fraudulent Websites

When looking for holiday deals online, be wary of fraudulent websites offering deals that seem too good to be true.  Google the name of the company and see what information you can find out, look for good and bad reviews of the company before making your purchase.  It is easy for scammers to create fake or knock-off websites as well, so make sure you are dealing with reputable websites when making holiday purchases.  When making your purchase online, verify that you are using a secure site to make your payment.  The web address should start with https (“s” stands for secure) and many times there will be a lock icon next to the web address indicating that it is a secure site.

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Be on the Lookout for Scams on Holiday Apps

Watch out for holiday smart phone apps. With more and more people making purchases from their phones, hackers are working hard to steal data from your phone. They are creating fake apps posing as real companies – like Amazon – that are proposing special black Friday deals if you download and install.  They are intended to collect the user’s personal data and as soon as you accept the request for privileges, the app then has access to harvest your personal data.  Also, make sure you have the latest updates on your phone, tablet, or other electronic devices before doing your holiday shopping.

Don’t Be a Target for False Shipping Emails

Another easy target for scammers are shipping emails.  Online shopping means more shipments and emails constantly coming in telling you where your packages are. Scammers send emails disguised as USPS, UPS, FedEx, and even Amazon with malicious attachments. Clicking on the attachment to see what is going on with one of the many packages you are waiting to arrive could give the bad guys the way into your personal data.

Take Surveys From Trusted Brands

Fake Facebook Surveys are becoming an easy way for scammers to get information from you.  Any survey that is asking you for your name, address, or phone number may be one that you want to think twice about taking. This information can be sold to purchasers who can then use it to send spam. The scammers are also hoping you’ll share the survey with your friends.

Scammers Love Gift Cards

Holiday scam artists are also using gift cards as a way to steal your hard-earned cash. They go to stores and copy the information off the back of cards. They then monitor the cards online and once a card has been activated – which happens when it is purchased – the scammer uses the card on his own purchases before it is given to the recipient.

Use a credit card (not a debit card) when making online purchases.  Credit cards usually offer stronger protection against online scams. Keep a close eye on your bank and credit card statements and notify your financial institutions and the police if you suspect foul play.

Smartphone app source: https://www.zscaler.com/blogs/research/thanksgiving-deals-your-private-data-too

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