As we seek a balance between celebrating with loved ones and keeping safe, holiday celebrations in 2021 will most certainly look drastically different. But one tradition isn’t going away: it’s still scam season, as cyber criminals devise methods to take advantage of our holiday habits.
A few scams are unique to the holidays, but the majority are variations of regular scams that have been amplified to coincide with seasonal increases in spending and web traffic. However, they frequently revolve around purchasing, particularly online. According to a optimumremit survey, 71 percent of respondents plan to perform the most of their holiday shopping online in 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of COVID, holiday consumers will not be queuing outside businesses for Black Friday deals this year. Instead, shoppers and Christmas deals have gone online, with international forecasting a 25 to 35 percent increase in e-commerce sales during the 2020-2021 holiday season compared to last year. However, just because you don’t have to glance over your shoulder to protect your purchases doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be on the alert for con artists attempting to take advantage of unsuspecting internet consumers.
Scammers use phony websites, phishing emails and social media campaigns that imitate major companies to entice bargain-hunting buyers. These spoofing sites and false posts encourage you to spend money on items you won’t get in every holiday scams.
However, many of them are used by fraudsters to capture credit card numbers and other personal information, which they then use to perpetrate identity theft or sell on the dark web. Scammers may use phony coupon offers or “purchase confirmation” emails to send malware laden webpages or attachments and do some door shipping service for verification if it is legit. Gift card fraud, which nearly two-thirds of buyers buy over the holidays, according to an AARP poll released in November 2020, ramps up throughout the holidays.
These are a few of the most common holiday con artists:
Scams with gift cards
According to the NRF, gift cards are the most popular item on holiday wish lists, with 60% of consumers surveyed stating they would want to receive one this season. This opens up a lot of potential for fraud.
Gift card buyers should inspect cards before purchasing them to ensure that the packaging hasn’t been tampered with and that the card’s personal identification number (PIN) hasn’t been revealed. Scammers will sometimes remove the account and PIN information off cards, then return them to the racks and wait for them to be purchased. They can then remove the value from the cards before the buyer realizes what has happened.
Fake e-commerce sites
According to Experian’s Bruemmer, “any bad link may be made to seem like Amazon.com.” The sites frequently use similar web domains (for example, “amazon-shop.com”) and have the same visual appearance as the retail sites they’re “spoofing,” or mimicking. When you try to “purchase” a thing, though, you’re simply giving criminals your personal information and credit card number.
Scams involving donations
Donation scams, like many other online frauds, frequently use bogus websites that appear to be legitimate. You must pay special attention to ensure that you do not visit the wrong website or click on any suspicious links.
These aren’t all online scams. Not solicited phone calls, according to AARP’s Fraud Watch Network, are another major source of fake gift requests. Charity Navigator and Give.org are two websites that can be used to verify charities.
There are many internet travel discounts available around the holidays, but if an offer appears to be too good to be true, it probably is. Additionally, fake travel websites are popular. People may “go to a booking site every time year that appears to be a well-known brand, but it is a spoofing site.”
Scams involving “Letters from Santa”
There are real shops who sell “Santa letters” that you can have sent to your grandchildren or children. However, identity thieves may find this concept to be a gold mine. According to the BBB’s Hutt, “in certain circumstances, you’re revealing your child’s personally identifiable information, which could be utilized for identity fraud.” “There are a variety of evil motives for obtaining information about a child.”
Minors’ personal information is very valuable. Parents may fail to monitor their children’s credit reports for years, and when the youngsters become adults and check their own records, they may discover that identity thieves have destroyed their credit rating.
You don’t have to fall prey to a traditional scam to be a victim of cyber theft during the holidays. According to Experian’s recently completed 2018 holiday study, 42% of those polled do not buy over a personal, secure internet connection. So, they use public Wi-Fi or a connection that isn’t protected against spam or malware.
This provides an opportunity for thieves to intercept and steal data, such as credit card numbers, bank account details, and personal information. Even offline, such courier services who randomly ask for your information which is not required.
Signs to Look Out For
- Huge discounts on popular gift products, particularly when advertised on social media or on unknown websites.
- On a purchasing website or in an email, there are spelling mistakes or poor grammar.
- A retail or travel site provides merely an email address or a fill-in contact form instead of a phone number or street address for the business.
- An unknown email asks you to access a bargain or schedule a delivery by clicking on a link or downloading an app.
Avoid being fooled into handing over personal or financial information while shopping online during the Christmas season by following these six recommendations
- Protect your PC by following these steps: To help secure yourself online, always install the latest updates and run up-to-date anti-virus software.
- Boost your accounts’ performance: For each of your online accounts, create a strong, unique password. For further information, go to go.rowan.edu/password. Also, enable extra security measures, such as two-factor confirmation, whenever possible to help secure your accounts.
- Don’t shop while using public WiFi: While it may be tempting to do your shopping while connected to a public WiFi network, even one with a password in a nearby coffee shop or restaurant, you risk exposing your data. Only use secure networks to conduct online financial transactions.
- Use credit cards instead of debit cards for online shopping: If at all possible, use credit cards instead of debit cards for online retail stores. In the event of fraud, credit cards offer protection.
- Maintain a close eye on your financial statements: Review your credit card accounts on a regular basis to look for annual fees, especially if you’ve made a lot of online purchases or utilized a new site.
- In terms of payment, prefer cash on delivery and door-to-door services or known as door delivery service to ensure the quality and requirements you require. Identifying the door to door courier is also necessary.
- Company will pick reliable cyber security startups even as a private person.