T’is the season when scammers try to put the ‘bah humbug’ in your holiday cheer.
“It’s the most scamming time of the year.”
From thieves stealing packages on your front doorstep to online identity theft, the holidays bring out the best of the worst when it comes to hustling. The FBI reported that in 2017, cybercrime cost the U.S. more than $1.4 billion and registered over 300,000 victim complaints.
So what can you do? And how are these cons getting your data in the first place?
First, keep a close eye on your banking activity is still the best thing you can do so if there are any unrecognizable charges, you can dispute them right away.
But learning what tactics are being used by criminals will also help protect you and make for a happier holiday.
Steer clear of the following holiday scams:
- Be careful where you shop online – Online retailers don’t have chip readers like bricks-and-mortar stores. When given the options, choose credit (not debit) card and only shop on secure websites. Make sure the website begins with https (look for the added “s” which means “secure”) and a lock symbol to the left of the address.
- Fake charities – The holidays put everyone in a giving mood and scammer take advantage of that. Solicitations for fake charities pop up everywhere through email, phone, social media, and even by text message. To verify if a charity is legit, visit Give.org before pulling out your wallet.
- Phony shipping notifications – “Your package has arrived!” Email attachments alerting you that you have a delivery often contain links that lead to malware and viruses that infect your computer making you vulnerable to identity theft. If you haven’t ordered anything and are not expecting a package, do not click on links you do not know.
- Social media sharing – Skip those seemingly fun and innocent questions your friends are passing around on Facebook claiming they’ll reveal your superhero name (or some other name) after you type in the street you grew up on and the name of your first pet. This information is often what is used to reset passwords and if given to the wrong person, you are readily handing over all of your private data.
- Broken taxi meter – Cab drivers near airports are known to pull this one, especially on tourists. The scam works like this: you get into the taxi and start driving when they inform you that their meter is broken. When you arrive at your destination, they try and charge you a ridiculous cab fare. To avoid this, make sure the car’s meter is working and negotiate a rate before getting in the car.
If you think you’ve come across something but aren’t sure if it’s true, head on over to Snopes, the “internet’s definitive fact-checking resource.”
When you can’t tell between the truth and misinformation, Snopes.com’s team of fact-checking and original, investigative reporting can help you decide with their evidence-based analysis. Always transparent, they always inform you of their sources so you can decide for yourself and make your own mind.
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Thom Grubbs is an insurance agent and partner at Pentagon Insurance Agency in Elk River, MN. Outside of work, Thom likes to bowl, fish, spend time with his family, and volunteer at his church. Get in touch with Thom and let him make life a little easier by talking over your situation.