December 16, 2014

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2014 Holiday Scams

Do You Know What Holiday Scams to Be on the Lookout For?

When the holidays arrive, many people tend to let their guards down a bit and enjoy the good cheer and spirit of giving that comes with the season. Unfortunately, for all of the kind-hearted acts of giving that occur, there are also individuals who make the decision to steal from others.

Cyber criminals are using online holiday scams to target your identity, bank accounts, and other personal information. Be sure to keep an eye out for these scams this holiday season:

Letter from Santa

The Better Business Bureau issued a warning recently to consumers about Santa letter scams. There are a couple different versions, but there are 2 primary types you may run across. With the first scam, a person receives an e-mail promoting a “Handwritten letter from Santa to Your Child” for $19.99. The e-mail contains a link to a website that promises an official nice-list certification and customized letter from Santa. If you decide to buy the letter, you will be out $19.99 and online scammers will now have your personal information.

The other version of this holiday scam promotes a free letter from Santa. Although it’s “free” and requires no credit card information, you are still asked to provide a lot of personal information like your full name, address, and phone number. That info is then sold to spammers who can do whatever they want with it.

Digital e-cards

Digital e-cards are very popular around the holiday season, so you will undoubtedly be receiving at least one or two from friends or family. However, e-card websites also make it very easy for hackers to obtain your personal information. There are no specific scams to be aware of right now, but as a general rule, only click on e-card e-mail links from well-known e-card websites like JibJab, Blue Mountain, or Hallmark. If you receive e-cards from unknown senders, sketchy-sounding websites, or if you are asked to download anything, delete the e-mail or contact the sender to be sure it is real.

Gift Cards

Everyone loves to receive gift cards to their favorite stores, which means they are also a prime targets for scammers. USA TODAY reports that scammers will use handheld scanners to read codes on gift cards that have not been purchased yet. After that, they periodically call the retailer’s 1-800 number to ask whether or not the card has been activated. After they’re sure a consumer has activated the card, they will create a counterfeit version or just buy things online using the card number. How can you protect your gift card balance? If the card issuer allows you to officially register your gift card, you can check your card’s balance online and see any transactions that have occurred. This is not a foolproof way to prevent gift card fraud, but it does let you proactively stay on top of the balance and act quickly when something doesn’t look right.

Delivery-Related Scams

You arrive home from work one evening to find an “attempted delivery” slip on your front door. It tells you to call a phone number to make arrangements to have your package delivered. Seems like a pretty common occurrence, especially around the holidays, right? So how can you tell when it’s a scam? In the scam version of this scenario, the person you call will ask for personal information, like your credit card or social security number — things that no one should have to supply in order to pick up a package.

It is unfortunate that scammers feel the need to continue their illegal antics during a time of year that is supposed to be joyous and peaceful. Don’t drive yourself crazy looking out for these holiday scams, but just use common sense and be aware of the ones we’ve listed above. Also, don’t forget that IdentityForce works 24/7 to help you protect your personal information and identity. That means if any scammers or hackers do try to take advantage of you this holiday season, we will notify you of any suspicious activity on your accounts, so you can take action before any damage is done.

Happy holidays from everyone at IdentityForce! Wishing you all the joys of the season and happiness throughout the coming year.

Image courtesy of Flickr user David Goehring.

Judy Leary

President at IdentityForce
For Judy, identity theft protection is in her DNA—her dad started IdentityForce’s parent company in the 70s, and in the 80s, she and her brother came on board. She loves her dedicated team and how much they care about every member, partner, and supplier. In addition to protection against identity theft, Judy is passionate about travel (Aruba is her “happy place”!) and giving back. She volunteers for the Alzheimer’s Association, Mazie Mentoring Program, and Sunshine Golden Retriever Rescue. She’s also a proud mom to 2 grown daughters and 3 rescue dogs.

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