This blog post was written by SAC member, Meadow Hall.
While the season calls for getting into the spirit of giving, some scammers look to prey on generosity. Each year, scammers use the holiday season to create schemes that will infect your computer with malware, create fake charities for you to donate to, and send you fake shipping notifications that, when clicked, allow them to steal your information.
Scammers are after both your financial and personal information. Here, we have outlined some of the more frequent scams to watch out for this holiday shopping season.
These scams are not exclusive to the holiday season; fake charities frequently pop up after natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires too. Some of these fake charities will claim to be from the IRS and to be helping victims with tax relief. Some may pressure you into giving to their false charity with the claim that you have given before and should give again. They may also say that because it is the holiday season, you should give right now.
Legitimate charities accept donations all year round, and if you don’t remember donating to the charity previously, you likely didn’t donate. A good way to spot a fake charity is if they are asking you to donate via gift cards or money wires. Remember, legitimate charities will never ask for donations of gift cards. They may instead ask for donations using a check or credit card. In addition, if the charity is legitimate, you can ask them to send you more information before donating and ask if your donations are tax-deductible.
Since many people are online shopping during the holiday season, there is usually an uptick in the number of false shipping links texted to consumers. Once clicked, these links allow scammers to infect your phone with malware or will prompt you to give them your personal information. These texts may pretend to be from Amazon, FedEx, UPS, or even the U.S. Postal Service. The messages may contain warnings that they need additional information from you to deliver your packages.
If you are unsure about a link emailed or texted to you, do not click on it. On your computer, you can hover over the link and see what the target URL of the link is. If the target URL is different than what the link says it is taking you to, it is likely a false link. If you are unsure if the link is legitimate, you can always contact the delivery company directly and ask about your packages.
If you suspect you may have fallen victim to one of these scams, contact the Federal Trade Commission (https://reportfraud.ftc.gov or 877-382-4357) to report the scam. Also, contact your local police department if you lost money or gave out your personal or financial information.
It is important to remember that anyone can fall victim to these scams and that there is nothing to be ashamed of. We hope this article makes it easier for you to keep an eye out for these types of fraud.