It’s the holiday season, and it’s a time when the scammers like to come out of the woodwork.  In recent years, holiday scams have become notorious for targeting online shoppers and people who frequent social media.  Here are some of the major scams that you need to be aware of this time of the year.

Fake Notifications

Every year, more and more people do their holiday shopping online.  This makes them a prime target for online phishing scams. Some of these can come in the form of fake shipping notifications.  In this scenario, someone disguises their email to read and look like a legit company and wants you to give them information to get updates about your purchased item.  These can be tricky because at first look they look real. To keep out of trouble, always know what you have purchased and what company is responsible for shipping the item.  If it is a company you have never heard of, delete the email immediately. Remember, real shipping companies don’t need your personal details to track your package.

Dual Websites

Another phishing scam that can be popular during this time of year when online shopping is at a high is one where someone makes a phony website that looks just like a legitimate website of another company.  If they can get you onto the fake website instead of the real one, they can get all of your information you enter including your address and credit card information. To be sure that this scam does not happen to you, the first thing you need to do is check to see if the web address starts with http or https.  If it has the “s” you will know the site is secure and your info is likely safe. Another thing you can do is to hover over any links on the page to see exactly where they go–if the linked page looks like it takes you off the main site, you might be on a fake page.

How Will You Pay?

Another scam to look for when holiday shopping is the type of payment you are asked to make.  If anyone asks you to make a wire transfer, use a third party or any other form of payment that can’t be traced or reversed, then it’s time to get out of there.  If they are asking for an unusual method of payment, you can be sure that something is not right with the transaction.

Real or Unreal?

Many people like to ramp up their charitable giving during the holiday season, and with that comes a lot of people trying to scam their way into your wallet by setting up fake charities.  If someone calls you and asks you to make a donation over the phone–don’t do it. Always do your research and know the charities you wish to give to. Look up their websites and make sure they are legit before you give them a dime. Once you know which organizations are legit or not, make a list to keep track of those you would like to give to so you will be less likely to be scammed next year.

The basic way to ensure you don’t get scammed online or in the real world is to be aware of your surroundings.  If something looks fishy, it probably is. If you don’t feel comfortable entering your information on certain websites or over the phone–don’t.  Trust your instincts when you see red flags and protect your information. Only then will you be more likely to have a worry-free holiday season.

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