We’re now in the heart of the biggest shopping season around the globe. With so much money exchanging hands between so many different people and retailers, it’s easy to see why scammers and fraudsters have also kicked their efforts into high gear. So, with so much activity going on, what should shoppers do to keep themselves safe? Keeping an eye out for the three common scams listed below is a great start to ensuring that both your personal and financial information are kept safe this holiday season.
Electronics are some of the most popular gifts of the holiday season, and mobile and online gaming are major components of those new tech toys. So, when you’re testing out your latest and greatest iPad or Android devices, be wary of malicious games. Hackers and identity thieves have gotten good at hiding their information stealing code in seemingly innocent mobile games. While you’re busy expanding your digital city or out-spelling your wordy best friend, code is running in the background that is quietly sending your credit card and personal information to the hackers database. The best way to protect against these types of scams is to only download online games from manufacturer approved sites – like the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Fake Shipping Notifications
Online sales account for huge proportion of holidays shopping. Scammers know this as well, and have cleverly begun hiding their tricks in emails that mimic shipping notifications from companies like Amazon.com. These emails will often ask you to update shipping information, or be dressed in the guise of an error that needs you attention. Once you click on the provided link you’re directed to a fake website that asks for your personal info, or the clicked link begins to automatically download malware onto your system. To protect against these types of scams, know that legitimate websites will rarely – if ever – ask for your personal information via email. The best way to confirm whether or not the message is legitimate is to contact the company directly. Should that message be fake, the company will now know that the scam is out there, and can take measures to alert other consumers.
It seems that every takes a lesson from the Grinch and lets their heart grow a few sizes larger during the holidays. Sadly, scammers know this as well and have begun setting up fraudulent charity websites in hopes of snagging your well intentioned donations. While there’s no fool proof way to protect against these types of scams, the best way to root out fake charities from real ones is to make a phone call or two. Calling any phone numbers listed on the charities website is a great first step, and confirming a charities affiliation with any listed companies or other charitable organizations is also a smart move. When in doubt, ask if there’s a home office of physical address where you can drop off your donation in person.
Oddly enough, most consumers are better at recognizing scams and potential fraud then they realize. Taking a minute or two to closely examine a website address and acknowledging those little hairs on the back of your neck can be a great way to protect your finances and personal information. When in doubt, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.