For most people, the holidays are a time of joy and good will. But for scammers, this is one of the best times of the year to look for victims. Here’s what you need to know to avoid being one.
The Two Most Common Holiday Scams
According to the FBI, the two most common holiday scams are non-delivery and non-payment scams.
In a non-delivery scam, a buyer pays online for goods or services advertised online, but they never get anything in return.
On the other hand, a non-payment scam works the opposite way: goods or services are provided but the seller never gets paid.
Other scams often found during the holidays include auction fraud (where a product is misrepresented on an auction website) and gift card fraud, where a person asks you to make a a payment or donation using a gift card.
No matter what type of scam you happen to come across, the result is always frustrating. So, what to do to protect yourself?
How To Avoid Holiday Scams
As you can see from the description above, most holiday scams have an element in common: scammers almost always use either the telephone, a text message, or the internet to fish for victims.
That bit of information gives you an advantage, as you already know where a scam attempt may come from. Here’s what you need to do to ward off scammers:
- First of all, remember that if an offer or a discount you see online seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Don’t open emails that seem suspicious (for example, the name of the sender is misplaced or the subject seems out of character).
- Don’t click on any suspicious links and don’t download any attachments unless you are absolutely positive that they are legitimate.
- Cybercriminals try to impersonate reputable websites by using internet domains that can be easily confused with legitimate ones, so pay close attention to a website’s address (for example, scammers may use www.bnak.com instead of www.bank.com)
- Never wire money directly to a seller and never pay with gift cards.
- If you pay online using your credit card, check your statements regularly to catch any suspicious payments as soon as possible.
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