With the holidays just a few weeks away, this is the time of year when fraudulent activity is on the rise. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has put together a list of 12 tips to help you avoid these scams and prevent you from becoming a victim. Most of the scams included in this list occur on social media and via email so it’s important to be cautious with your online activity.
- Misleading Social Media Ads – Often you may see items for sale from unfamiliar businesses. They may even offer free trials or claim to support charities. BBB receives multiple reports from people receiving counterfeit items, getting charged for items they never received, etc. Before purchasing from an unfamiliar company, it’s best to do your own research and check out the company’s business profile on BBB.org to read the reviews.
- Social Media Gift Exchanges – This is a common scam on social media sites. Scammers claim if you enter your information and purchase items for an unknown recipient, you’re “paying it forward” to help a certain cause, people, or animals. Most people think they’re doing good, when really, they’ve just become involved in an illegal scam. Use extreme caution with gift exchanges.
- Holiday Apps – There are numerous holiday-themed apps for children available on Apple’s App Store and Google Play. While these are free and can be a lot of fun, it’s best to review privacy policies to see what information is collected when the apps are downloaded. Free apps tend to have more advertisements and sometimes require a small fee; they can also contain malware.
- Alerts About Compromised Accounts – A recent scam that has grown in popularity is where victims receive calls, texts, or emails that their accounts such as Amazon, bank account, etc. have had suspicious activity or have been compromised. These messages generally urge recipients to take immediate action, so be very careful with these types of messages. It’s always best to go directly to the website or call them directly, instead of clicking on links within messages.
- Free Gift Cards – We all love receiving free items, and scammers take advantage of this. They send emails requesting personal information in exchange for a free gift card or they try to impersonate companies by rewarding customers with free items. These can also occur as pop-up ads or text messages claiming you won something. If you receive these messages, do not open them. Mark them as Spam or Junk. If you have opened an email, do not click on any links.
- Temporary Holiday Jobs – This is a common scam that occurs during the holidays, especially when retailers are hiring seasonal workers to help with the busy holiday season. While some of the advertisements may be legitimate, there are also plenty of scams aimed at stealing personal information and money from job applicants. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Look-Alike Websites – There are many different types of deals going on, especially around the holidays, which is why it’s the perfect time for scammers to see what they can get away with. Be careful when receiving emails with links enclosed. This is sometimes a way for scammers to collect personal information, trick people into downloading malware, and making dead-end purchases. When in doubt, don’t click any links in emails, but hover over them to see what URL they reroute to.
- Fake Charities – When donating to charities, donors should avoid impromptu donations to unfamiliar organizations. Legitimate organizations will accept donations year-round, so if an organization seems to be putting on extra pressure, this could be a red flag. When making donations, it’s best to donate directly through the charity website and use a credit card.
- Fake Shipping Notifications – With an increase in online shopping, there has been an increase in scams. Scammers send emails with links to try and collect personal information or download malware onto people’s devices. They have also been known to trick people into paying new shipping fees, so try and keep a close watch on tracking of your packages. Often, these emails tend to have misspelled words or other grammatical errors, so if you see these things, it’s a good indicator it’s a scam.
- Pop Up Holiday Virtual Events – Many in-person events have transitioned online since COVID, so naturally, scammers have taken advantage of this by creating fake event pages, social media posts, and emails trying to charge admission for these events. Their end goal is to steal credit card information, so it’s best to check with the event organizer and confirm whether there is an admission fee. If there is a fee, use a credit card. If there is no fee, but you’re being asked to pay, obviously this will indicate it’s a scam.
- Top Holiday Wishlist Items – When goods such as jewelry, electronics, and other high-end items are being advertised at a low price, this is a good indicator that it is a counterfeit or knockoff. Use extreme caution when purchasing through social sites.
- Puppy Scams – The holidays are a popular time for families to consider adding a furry family member. This popular scam is on the rise again this year and something to be on the lookout for. Before making a purchase, it’s always a good idea to request to see the pet in person.
As with any type of online scams, careful action, and the use of excellent security software are a step in the right direction when it comes to combatting scams. If you have any questions or feel your devices have been compromised and would like to discuss ways we can help, contact Entre Technology Services.