Beware of Holiday Shopping Scams


The holiday season is upon us!  It’s time to trim the tree and shop for gifts.  During all the hustle and bustle of this season, it’s important to keep a vigilant watch out for scams.  Christmastime is the most notorious time of year for money scams, and if you are a victim of one, it can be potentially devastating.  

Here are some “popular” scams that are going around this time of year:

Gift Card Scams

For some people, gift cards are the perfect Christmas gift.  It’s quick, easy, and it lets the recipient buy whatever their heart desires.  If buying a gift card is on your shopping list this year, it’s best to buy them directly from the store and get it from the cashier.  

Online gift card discount and auction sites can be fraudulent.  Either they take your money and you don’t receive the intended gift card, or you receive the intended gift card, but it was stolen or doesn’t have the amount of money on it that it should.

Likewise, buying gift cards from the huge kiosks in general grocery stores can be a gamble too.  There is a scam where people take the codes off many of the cards so they can use them online.  You then buy one of those cards and they are not usable because the codes have already been used.  You are out money and have nothing to show for it.  So, again, it’s best to get one from the actual store you want the recipient to purchase from, and get it from the cashier.

Twinned Wi-Fi Scam

We’ve talked before about the perils of public wi-fi and how you shouldn’t use it for paying bills or checking bank accounts.  Now there is a new reason to be wary of your friendly coffee shop internet services–the Twinned Wi-Fi Scam.  This is where a person can make a new wi-fi signal that looks exactly like the complimentary one at the location where you are.  You click on that one, thinking it’s the right one, and now the hacker has all of your information on your computer.  It’s a scary thought, but that’s why it is important to only use encrypted sites and never enter your credit cards, go online shopping, or check your bank accounts over public wi-fi.

Package Delivery Scam

Online shopping for Christmas gifts has become huge, mostly for its convenience of being brought directly to your doorstep.  If you are a person who likes to shop online, beware of the Package Delivery Scam.  

This scam will send you an email with a subject line that says something similar to, “USPS Failed Delivery Notification.”  When you click to read it, it will tell you there has been a failed attempt to deliver your package or that your package was intercepted at some point.  It then gives you a link to click to find out when you can expect your package.  If you click this link, you will download a virus onto your computer that can gain access to all your private information.  It’s scary because these emails don’t look sketchy–in fact, they look official.  This scam isn’t just the USPS either, it has been seen with UPS and FedEx as well.  

The best thing to do in this scenario is to think rationally through your online purchases.  Are you even waiting on a package to be delivered?  If so, did you get tracking notifications about your purchase?  Go to the tracking website and see where the official tracking number has your package.  If it doesn’t say anything is wrong, you can be assured the Failed Delivery Notification email was a scam.  If you are unsure, you can always call USPS, UPS, or FedEx and ask about your package rather than taking the email at face value and clicking on the link.  Just think it out and be aware that this scam is out there.

Now that you know some of the common holiday shopping scams out there, you can be more wary of where you do your business. It’s important to keep a watch out for scams all year long, but it seems the holidays really amp up people’s attempts to steal your money and information.  Just be careful and use your head when shopping, and you should be able to avoid these scams this year.

 

Information on scams provided by mycreditunion.gov

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