Fraud is something to look out for all year long, but as online shopping has increased every year, so has the number of ways to steal your holiday cheer. Today we look at some modern schemes and where you can report them.
The best protection against fraud during the holidays is to keep a close eye on your financial statements and quickly dispute any unrecognizable charges.
You can keep up with the newest scams with the Federal Trade Commissions scam alerts.
If you recognize any foul play, contact the credit card company or bank and file a complaint with the FBIs Internet Crime Complaint Center. You can also submit a report to the Better Business Bureau scam tracker at bbb.org.
Tracking scams nationwide
The image below shows the scam tracker (note that the number of scams reported in the Los Angeles area doubles that of the rest of California).
How old are you? Beware this scam
Here are the three most successful scam types based on your age:
12 things to help spot scams
There are several new scams every year, and its difficult to keep up. Here are a few things to look for.
- 1. Never send money to someone you have never met face-to-face.
- 2. Dont click on links or open attachments in unsolicited emails. Do not open an attachment that ends in “.exe” – an execute command.
- 3. Just because a website or email looks official (seals, fonts and other details), it does not mean that it is. Even caller ID can be faked.
- 4. Dont buy online unless the transaction is secure. Make sure the website has “https” in the URL (the extra s is for “secure”) and a small lock icon on the address bar.
- 5. Be cautious when dealing with anyone youve met online.
- 6. Never share personal information with someone who has contacted you unsolicited.
- 7. Dont be pressured to act instantly.
- 8. Use secure, traceable payment methods when making payments for goods, services and taxes.
- 9. Work with businesses that have proper identification, licensing and insurance.
- 10. Be cautious about what you share on social media.
- 11. Watch out for temporary holiday jobs that require you to pay for equipment upfront.
- 12. Avoid unusual forms of payments such as prepaid debit or gift cards, wire transfers and third parties.
Since 2013, the FBIs Internet Crime Complaint Center has recorded more than 1.4 million cases that totaled over $5.5 billion in losses. You can file a complaint at ic3.gov.
- Phishing/vishing/smishing/pharming: Unsolicited email, text messages and telephone calls purportedly from a legitimate company (such as Microsoft or a bank) requesting personal, financial and/or login credentials.
- Ransomware: A type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until money is paid.
- Government impersonation: A government official, such as an IRS agent, is impersonated in an attempt to collect money.
- Hacktivist: A computer hacker whose activity is aimed at promoting a social or political cause.
- Grinch: “Youre a rotter, Mr. Grinch. Youre the king of sinful sots. Your hearts a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots.”
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