Happy Holidays, PaySAFE fans! The last two months of each year we all take a step back and enjoy the time we have with friends and family. It’s also a time of year that involves the largest uptick in shopping for many families as we purchase tasty treats and gifts for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas and numerous other occasions. Unfortunately, this time of year also sees a spike in the number of scams – both online and off – that can ruin anyone’s holiday. So, to keep your yuletide merry, follow some of the simple fraud prevention tips below.
With family and friends strung across the country, most Americans will do at least a little bit of traveling this holiday season. Scammers know this as well, and will often send offer of ‘free airfare’ via email, fax or snail mail. These letters will often bare logos with striking resemblances to legitimate airlines or travel sites, but are actually phishing schemes designed to steal your personal information and/or credit card numbers. Always be sure to call and validate a deal that seems too good to be true, and NEVER give out your personal or banking information via email.
Online Shopping Scams:
Cyber Monday is arguably the largest day of online shopping in the world. As we take the the web for great deals, scammers take to the web as well. Be sure to shop only on websites that offer Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protection or that bare the verification of third-party organizations like the Better Business Bureau or TRUSTe. Using your credit card also provides a layer of protection as you can easily contest any suspicious charges.
Sadly, in a season of giving there are those who would take advantage of our good nature for their own purposes. There are many ‘sound alike’ charities that pop up around the holidays. Use of the words ‘salvation’ or ‘cancer’ don’t always mean that a charity is legitimate. Giving online can also have pitfalls. Simply because a website ends with a .org doesn’t mean that the organization is an actual 501c(3) charity. When in doubt, call your charity of choice directly or visit them in person to make your holiday donations.
Despite the cold weather in most of the country, this time of year sees an increase in door-to-door scams as well. These scammers will often pose as the on the ground representatives of charitable organizations or even tradespeople. Don’t fall victim to high-pressure sales techniques or sob stories that they may present. Again, when in doubt, tell them you’ll call the company yourself or give in-person at the organization’s local office. Some states also require a peddler’s license when selling door-to-door. Be sure to know the rules in your state and don’t be afraid to ask for identification or proof that individuals are actually working with the company or organization they claim to represent.
While holiday season scams don’t tend to vary greatly in substance when compared to the rest of the calendar year, these types of risks do tend to increase during the holidays. However, keeping tabs on your local news and following the tips above can help to keep your holidays season free of bad tidings.