The holiday season is here, and it is the time for sharing and celebrating. This is the perfect time that presents plenty of opportunities for scammers. They actively work on finding their next victim and get into your wallet. You can save yourself from being a victim of such scams by taking precautions and being vigilant with preparation.
Here are some of the common scams that you must be aware of:
1. Gift Card Scams: One of the most popular items on the holiday wishlist is the gift card. You should always look at the gift card purchasers before buying. Check that the package has not been tampered with and the card’s PIN (personal identification number) is not exposed.
It allows the scammers to redeem the card’s value before you notice what has happened. Sometimes, when you buy some gift cards from third-party websites, there are chances that the card has no value or has already expired. So you should always buy a card from the store directly.
2. Fake Retail websites: Some websites have similar web addresses and may look visually identical but are spam websites. These sites are copied or “spoofed,” and if you buy anything from these websites, you just give the scammers your data and credit card number. The website links might be slightly different, like a “0” or zero being used instead of alphabetical “o”.
3. Donation Scams: Like other online scams, donation scams are websites designed to look real. You must be attentive that the link is not going to the wrong site and is not suspicious. Some of these scams take place through phone calls to make phony donation requests.
4. Travel Scams: If you find any offer around holidays that are too good to be true, then you should be careful. Online travel frauds are common, and you will only realize that you have been scammed when you reach the airport or your holiday destination. Researching about travel agencies and reading reviews from other past customers can help you understand the website’s legitimacy.
5. Data Theft: To become a theft victim online, you do not have to fall into a “typical” scam. Most people do not shop on their personal, protected internet and instead use a public WiFi connection without any malware or spot protection. It gives scammers a chance to intercept and steal data, like your bank account information, credit card numbers, and personal data.
Warning Signs You Should be Aware Of
- Check if there are frequent grammatical or spelling mistakes in an email or a shopping website.
- Any deal with high discounts, especially on an unfamiliar website or social media post.
- Any unsolicited email that asks you to download an app or click a link to arrange a delivery or for downloading an app.
- A travel or shopping website that does not list a street address or phone address for the business, and offers only a fill-in contact form or an email address.
Tips to Avoid Holiday Scams
Practice Good Cybersecurity Hygiene: Don’t click on any suspicious attachment or link on social media, website, or email. Crimes like phishing scams make you click the links and gather your information like bank account number, password, etc.
You should also use tools like VPN for iPhone, Android, and other devices and software like antivirus to get an extra layer of protection. A VPN encrypts your sensitive data before sending it through the web. It means that no one can see your traffic – neither your Internet Service Provider nor snoopers.
Know Who You are Buying From: Always make sure that the URL of the website is secure and legitimate. Look for HTTPS in the web address from which you are buying. If it does not have HTTPS, do not enter information on that website.
Do check the company’s review before buying, especially for the first time. Research and verify the legitimacy. If you find that the seller has unfavorable feedback and ratings, then beware of it. Also, avoid buying any products or services from buyers who ship your request using a certain method to avoid taxes or customs inside another country.
Be Careful How You Pay: Avoid sending wire money directly to the seller. If a seller asks you to pay through a prepaid gift card, then you should never do it. They will ask you to send them the PIN and gift card number. Instead of sending you the product, they will use these details to steal your fund.
You should prefer using a credit card while shopping and keep an eye on your statement. Contact your credit card immediately and dispute the charge if you find any suspicious transaction.
Monitor the shipping process: If you purchase anything online, make sure that you get a tracking number for your items. Follow the delivery process and double-check that your products have been shipped. Also, look for their refund and return policies before making any buy, especially from a suspicious or unfamiliar website, and be clear about them.
By just being aware and taking precautions, you can save yourself from falling into the trap of such scams that might have become a reason to spoil your holiday.