The holiday season brings joy, festivities, and unfortunately, an increase in scams and fraud attempts. As you embark on your holiday shopping and celebrations, it's crucial to arm yourself with knowledge and take proactive measures to protect your personal information and hard-earned money.
Here are common holiday scams and valuable tips to stay safe and secure.
Online shopping scams: The grinch of the internet
Imagine finding the perfect gift at an unbelievably low price, only to realize later that it was a scam. The online store never delivered the package and now the website has suddenly disappeared. Online shopping scams are prevalent during the holiday season, and fraudsters use various tactics to lure unsuspecting shoppers. To avoid falling victim to online shopping scams:
- Review website URLs: Before making a purchase, ensure the website's URL starts with "https://" and has a padlock icon in the address bar, indicating a secure connection.
- Research the seller: Look for customer reviews, check if the website provides contact information and validate the legitimacy of the business.
- Trust your instincts: If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of heavily discounted items and unrealistic offers, especially through social media.
Phishing and smishing: Don't take the bait
Phishing and smishing scams aim to trick you into revealing personal information or clicking on malicious links. Phishing is a type of email deception used to obtain sensitive personal information. Smishing occurs when an attacker sends a deceptive text message or SMS to lure you into clicking a malicious link or providing personal data. For example, you receive an email or text message claiming to be from your financial institution, urging you to update your account information by clicking on a link. Unknowingly, you provide your sensitive details to the scammer. To protect yourself from phishing and smishing scams:
- Be skeptical: Be cautious of unexpected messages asking for personal or financial information. Legitimate organizations will not request sensitive data via email or text.
- Avoid clicking on suspicious links: Hover over hyperlinks to check their destination before clicking. When in doubt, directly visit the official website or contact the organization through verified channels.
- Guard your personal information: Be very cautious of phone calls, texts and emails requesting your personal information, such as your debit or credit card number, Social Security number, password, account numbers and other personal information.
- Don’t rely on caller ID: Scammers can spoof phone numbers to make it look like the call is coming from your bank, Social Security Administration, the IRS, or another company. Call the company using the phone number on their website or an account statement to determine if the request is legitimate.
By following these preventative measures and staying vigilant, you can enjoy a safe and worry-free holiday season. Remember, your online safety begins with awareness and informed decision making.
At Pacific Service CU, we will never ask for your personal information through email or text message. If you think you have been a victim of fraud, please contact a member service representative at (888) 858-6878. For additional information please visit https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/.
Happy holidays and stay safe!
This blog has been written in conjunction with AI.