Don’t Let the Grinch Steal Your Holiday!

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have traditionally kicked off the holiday shopping season, sending hordes of crowds surging through malls and surfing the web for the best deals. Unfortunately, it’s also a time that kicks off the season of shopping scams. Check out this article to learn how to spot a scam and stay one step ahead of these criminals.

Scams to watch out for this holiday shopping season:

  • Bogus Deals –Don’t believe an advertised price that is ridiculously low. It may be a scam and you’ll never get the goods you order.
  • Bait & Switch Sweepstakes –Never share your personal details on a site whose authenticity you can’t verify. The promised sweepstakes is just the scammer’s bait to get to your information.
  • Delivery Problems –If you receive an email claiming there’s been a problem with a delivery, be wary, its likely a scam. Delivery scams generally take the form of a message appearing to be from UPS, FedEx or another delivery service, informing the victim of a “delivery issue” with an order. They’ll be asked to confirm or update their information with the provided link. Doing so will give the scammer access to financial information and open the door to identity theft and more.
  • Phishing emails- These can be especially difficult to spot among the barrage of promotional emails flooding inboxes during this time of year. Here are two common variations:
    • Account verification- The victim receives an email appearing to be from a retailer they frequently shop. It informs them that someone has tried to hack into their account. They’re asked to verify their account or update their account details through an embedded link. Doing so, however, will give a scammer access to their account. The scammer can now rack up a huge bill and leave the victim to pick up the tab.
    • Order confirmation- The victim receives an email asking them to confirm an order made through Amazon or another large retailer. They’ll be asked to verify the order details through an embedded link. Unfortunately, doing so will give their personal information directly to the scammers.

Tips to avoid holiday shopping scams:

  • Use your credit or debit card. It offers you more protection against purchases that don’t turn out to be what you expected. If a company is requesting you pay for an item with a money order, wire transfer or pay a third party directly, it’s likely a scam.
  • Take extra care when using apps like Zelle, Venmo or Cash App as these transactions can be very difficult to dispute if you don’t receive what was ordered.
  • Don’t open links in emails sent from unverified contacts.
  • Never allow a stranger access to your mobile device, computer or personal accounts.
  • Don’t share sensitive information on the phone or online with an unknown person. If contacted by an alleged retailer representative about an issue with your account, hang up and check your account to see if an issue is actually present.  You can always call them back at a number you know is valid.
  • Always keep the privacy and spam settings on your computer and mobile devices at their strongest settings.
  • If you have an issue with an ordered item, contact the retailer directly through their site and not through a pop-up ad appearing to represent them. Likewise, it’s a good idea to not click through to “support links” that are posted on troubleshooting forums, as they may not be to legitimate service sites.
  • Only purchase items from reputable sellers. When shopping on a new site, look for a physical address, a customer service number and copy that’s free of spelling errors and typos.
  • Remember to hold onto your receipts when shopping in-store. Receipts contain personal information an identity thief can use.
  • Consider a service like EZShield that monitors you and your family’s personal information and alerts you to potential fraudulent activity.

As always, be aware and be cautious when enjoying the holiday season. Don’t get grinched! Stay alert and use caution to keep your money — and your information — safe.

Connect with us through Video Banking, call 315-782-0155 or stop into any relationship center if you think you have been a victim of fraud. We’re here to help and are trained to spot and resolve cases of fraud before they turn into financial loss.