We know this year has brought uncertainty in many ways. Unfortunately, scammers are notorious for capitalizing on uncertainty, and the coronavirus outbreak has been no different. With the holidays approaching, it’s important to be vigilant, especially if you plan on doing shopping online.
In addition to the holiday season, December is also Identity Theft Protection Month, which is why we’ve compiled the following scams and provided tips to keep yourself safe from potential fraud this holiday season.
- Phishing emails
Due to increased online shopping and other purchasing habits, phishing scams might occur more frequently. These could occur in the form of fake digital receipts or invoices, false shipping status alerts, and fake customer surveys.
To protect yourself from phishing email scams, always check the web address of links you click directly in an email. Ensure it’s properly spelled and secured. Also never provide personal information, including usernames, passwords or payment information in “customer surveys.” Legitimate surveys won’t ask for this information.
- Phony gift cards
The anonymity gift cards provide has always made them appealing to fraudsters. Many scammers sell expired or empty gift cards this time of year, and other times they might use stolen credit card information to purchase gift cards.
Ask to inspect any gift card you purchase before you finalize the sale. Check to see if the activation code is exposed. If it is, the scammer has probably already used the card or has copied the information and will use it soon.
- Bogus websites
Due to the pandemic, more people may experience financial strain this holiday season. While you may find that perfect gift priced just-right, it’s important to make sure it’s coming from a legitimate source. A good rule of thumb: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t believe ads or websites that are giving away big-ticket items for free.
Be sure to only shop on reputable, secured websites. Many bogus sites look similar to the site they are posing as, but the URL might be off by one letter. You can also easily verify a website’s security by ensuring the web address starts with “https.”
- Fake purchase
In the fake purchase scam, scammers will try to convince you that you have an item on hold, and you must give them payment information to complete the order. Scammers will often use companies like Amazon or Walmart because of their high traffic during the holidays.
If you receive any calls, emails, or text messages asking about an order that you didn’t place, do not engage with the caller/sender. Confirming your contact information could potentially open the door for other scammers to contact you. It’s best to block the sender to prevent any potential fraud.
If you’ve placed an order recently, contact the merchant directly, using the phone or email on their website, to ensure your order is secure. If possible, try visiting a physical location to check on the order with a customer service representative. Also, informing the company of the scam you experienced will help them to inform other customers of potential fraud.
At Northern, we’re committed to your peace of mind and account security. If you think you’ve experienced any of these scams, or if you want to learn more about EZShield Identity Protection, use live chat, call or text 315.782.0155, or connect with us through Video Banking.