The holiday spirit is in the air, people are decorating their homes with festive lights, stockings, and Christmas trees. With all the the hustle and bustle it is no wonder why each year numerous Americans become victim to scams. These scams are elaborately thought out and creative in order for criminals to get their hands on your money and/or personal information. The FBI warns shoppers to remain vigilant to schemes and red flags.
Online shopping is fun, right? Those shopping online this holiday season should remember that if the deal appears to be too good to be true, it probably is. Unrealistic discounts on brand name merchandise or gift cards as an incentive to purchase their product many times turn out to be the consumer giving away personal information, and receiving nothing, but a compromised identity. Links and unsolicited emails should not be opened or clicked on. Also, shoppers should secure bank and credit card accounts with strong and unique passwords.
For social media, beware of posts offering vouchers or gift cards. These may even be shared by an online friend or appear to. Most of these will include holiday promotions, or a credit/gift card for a specified dollar amount. Also, posting event or amusement park tickets can pose a risk of a scam artists using the barcodes on your ticket.
Smartphone App scams are becoming increasingly prevalent and are often disguised as games, most offered for free. These often times are designed to steal personal information from your device. Always look for third-party reviews when downloading an app from an unknown source.
With the holidays coming, people are increasingly eager to find employment. Knowing the vulnerability of those seeking employment, scammers are offering work-from-home jobs. These job offers are often a scamming those seeking work into paying up front fees for instructions or products. Always research the person, people, or company before giving them any of your personal information
Additional steps to avoid becoming a victim of fraud:
- Check bank and credit card statements routinely, including immediately after making an online purchase and weeks following the holiday season.
- Only purchase merchandise from a reputable source.
- Don’t trust a website to be secure just because it claims to be.
- Do not respond to spam e-mails or click on links contained within them.
- Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mails that ask for personal information.
- Be cautious of all e-mail attachments and scan them for viruses before opening.
- Verify requests for personal information from businesses or financial institutions by contacting them using the main contact information on their official website.
- Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of your own country.
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