Consumer Issues

Holiday Scam Alert

The holiday season is busy enough as is. The last thing you want to be dealing with is scammers trying to – or successfully – tricking you out of your money. Five common holiday scams include:

Holiday Charity Scams: This may be the commonest scam of all.

Delivery Scams: As holiday packages are delivered around the country, scammers send out phishing scam emails disguised as UPS, FedEx or U.S. Postal Service with a link to view your “missed deliveries.” These links can lead to phony sign-in pages asking for personal information or to websites infected with malware. 

Online Shopping Scams: It’s so easy to shop online, especially during the busy holiday season. It’s also easy for scammers to extract information if you’re not protecting yourself.

Travel Scams: Booking sites and email offers with travel deals that look too good to be true are most likely scams. Scammers try to mimic popular travel websites by recreating familiar branding, logos or company verbiage.

Gift Card Scams: Gift cards make the perfect holiday gift. Be cautious about buying gift cards from third-party sites.

Darius Kingsley, Head of Business Practices at Chase Bank, offers the following tips to deal with each kind of scheme:

On charity scams: “To avoid a charity scam, refrain from donating if a website or caller seeks payment only by wire transfer, gift card or prepaid card—scam calls are frequently used to try and get your information over the phone. Be wary of unsolicited social media messages or emails from organizations claiming to need donations. For instance, don’t click on links or respond to email messages from charities you haven’t supported in the past. Legitimate organizations will never send you a message with an attachment. And if you receive an email appeal for aid with an attachment, delete it.” 

For more tips, click here.

In the United States, the Internal Revenue Service has search tools that reveal whether an organization is eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.

On delivery scams: “Don’t reply to an email, phone call or text message that asks you for your personal or financial information, including asking you to send money or cryptocurrencies to avoid a service interruption or to receive your delivery,” Kingsley says. “Other ways a scam message may contact you include threatening to close or suspend your account if you don’t take immediate action, inviting you to answer a survey that asks you to enter personal or account information, or asking you to confirm, verify or update your account, credit card or billing information.”

On online shopping scams: “Steer clear of private sellers with goods for sale at a price that seems too good to be true or with hard-luck stories, such as a need to sell quickly because of family loss, divorce or military deployment. Also, buy directly from a retailer’s official website and avoid websites offering unrealistic discounts on popular merchandise.”

On travel scams: “When booking a rental home for a vacation,” Kingsley says, “always pay through the service’s official website. Some scammers will try to convince you to pay for your trip using other means. Advocate for yourself as a scam checker by looking up unfamiliar retail, travel and charity sites online by searching for their names along with terms like ‘scam,’ ‘complaints’ or ‘reviews.’”

On gift scams: “Buy cards directly from the retailer and avoid shopping for discount gift cards through local swap sites. Additionally, don’t respond to an unsolicited email or text message offering you a gift card – your computer or mobile device could become infected with a virus or malware.”

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