According to Investopedia, Americans spent more than $1 trillion last holiday season. And wherever money is being spent, you can be sure that financial fraudsters are not far behind. Every year, criminals do their best to take advantage of the shopping season with both old and new scams. Learn about the most common holiday scams and how you can protect yourself from them below.
Popular Holiday Scams
Skimmers, Shimmers & eSkimmers
You’ve probably heard of card “skimmers” and “shimmers” that capture your info when you swipe or insert your card, but you might not realize that eCommerce platforms can be skimmed as well. By exploiting weak links on an eCommerce platform, a scammer can install malware that “skims” your card info directly from the checkout page. The malware captures your information in real-time and immediately sends it to a remote server where the data can be collected and exploited by online scammers.
Social Media Scams
Fraudsters work hard to keep up with technology, and scamming on social media is just one of the ways that they’ve taken advantage of the global shift to digital networking. This is easily accomplished by setting up a fake online store and running advertisements that link to these fake eCommerce websites. After clicking and completing your “payment,” the fraudsters make off with your info and you’re left with the consequences (and no item to show for it).
Porch pirates are active all year, but especially during the holiday season. As more and more packages appear on your porch, the opportunity to commit this crime soars. A package can be snatched from anywhere – be it your doorstep, an apartment complex, or even a business.
Shipment Update Schemes
As online shopping becomes more popular, shipping services are offering more ways to keep track of your deliveries. But scammers are quick to find ways of turning these helpful tools into opportunities for stealing your info. They do this by sending you an email (often sporting the logos of popular delivery services like UPS or FedEx) claiming that they failed to make the delivery and need you to update your shipping info. These emails often contain links that, once clicked, install malware onto your device. Once the malware is in place, scammers can easily capture your passwords, payment info, and anything else that comes across your screen.
Fake Charity Asks
While the holidays are full of big shopping events like Black Friday, they’re also a time when people give back through donations to charities. The internet and the many technologies available to us make it easier than ever to donate. But, similar to other online scams, criminals can easily entice kindhearted individuals to donate to scams. By setting up fake charity websites, or even face donation and fundraising pages on sites like GoFundMe, these scammers pull on your heartstrings in order to make off with your money.
How to Protect Yourself
Protect Your Payments
One of the best ways to keep your payment info safe from malware on eCommerce sites is by using private payment options like Amazon Pay, PayPal, or digital wallet services. Because you’re using a source that has already stored your payment info, you won’t be entering it into a form where the data can be easily captured. It’s easy and much more secure than entering your card number into every site you shop on. You should also keep information like your email, address, and birthday on on lock-down when browsing the internet. The more info fraudsters can find, the easier they can target you. Always err on the side of caution when a website asks for your info.
Shop at the Source
Rather than clicking through from a social media ad or opening a link from your email inbox, go directly to the website you want to make a purchase from. Scammers are good at what they do, and many of the advertisements and emails they send look like the real deal. Often times, they’ve even built a fake website to make their scheme look legitimate. Going directly to the official website is one of the easiest ways to avoid both advertising and email schemes. You can also download the official app for different websites and delivery services that can be used on your smartphone to make sure you’re experience is authentic.
Take Advantage of Alerts
If you’re using a smartphone, then chances are you’re getting several notifications throughout the day. Take advantage of notifications by enabling alerts that can help you monitor your transactions and deliveries. Make sure that all your financial apps are up-to-date and that alerts are turned on for transactions. Download the Card Compass app to set up alerts for different types of transactions, spending amounts, and more for your Red Canoe debit and credit cards. Don’t forget to check out the settings for different shopping apps and delivery apps that you use frequently to find out what kind of alerts are available.
Nothing takes the place of constant vigilance when it comes to protecting yourself from fraud. Be aware of your account, monitor your transactions, and exercise some healthy caution when navigating the world wide web.