Protect Yourself from Scams and Criminals this Holiday Season
According to an article by Eva Velasquez, President/CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center, the holiday season is when scammers and criminals are looking to cash in over the busy, upcoming weeks. The scams that Velasquez highlights may not only ruin your holidays, but your identity and your bank account. Take note of the following tips to stay safe:
1. Travel Scams
Many sites offer deals for holiday season travel, which many of us may have already booked. However, be sure to only book trips with reputable travel websites. Avoid suspicious advertisements altogether, and go directly to reputable travel sites such as Kayak.com, Priceline.com, Google Flights, Yapta, etc., which will be most helpful in helping you decide the best and cheapest time to buy, price changes, and more.
2. Online Shopping Scams
Even though Black Friday has passed, some of us PREFER to do our shopping online as much as possible to avoid crowds, parking, and the hustle and bustle (AND OF COURSE, FREE SHIPPING! ALL THE FREE SHIPPING!). However, “bogus websites that claim to have this year’s ‘hot toy’ in stock are often malicious links that install harmful software on your computer, identity theft attempts that record your usernames and passwords, and other scams,” says Velasquez. To avoid falling victim to this scam, make sure you see an “HTTPS” at the beginning of your website link (that means it’s a secure designation) and update your antivirus software if you haven’t already done so. And if you’re unsure, avoid clicking on advertisements, and type the reputable website in to your browser directly to ensure your safety!
3. Email Scams
We can guarantee we’ve all received one of these at one point or another. These emails come from an unknown source and appear to look like reputable business emails from Amazon, PayPal, your bank, etc. to inform you that something is wrong with your order or shipping or that there is a security issue with your account, and then tell you to click on a link to log in and view your account. Once you click that link, malicious software is installed on your computer. We can’t stress enough; DON’T CLICK THE LINKS! Go directly to the website and log in if you think there may be an issue.
4. Employment Scams
Many people pick up seasonal jobs or additional part-time jobs around the holidays to make some extra cash. Employment scams will offer you positions (most of which sound WAY too good to be true), but require you to enter identifying information. Velasquez warns that, “you will never have to turn over your identifying information during the job hunt, so keep that data private until you’ve been hired.”
5. Charity Scams
Yes. They exist. Criminals have no shame when they’re trying to pry your hard-earned cash from your hands, and they will use phony charity opportunities to achieve that. Velasquez notes that, “whether it’s collecting cash in person or social media posts that beg for support, remember to investigate a charity thoroughly before you give. And don’t forget that you can donate all year round, not just during the holiday!
Stay safe and happy shopping!