Holiday Fraud Goes Beyond Shopping Scams
It’s the time of the year for making lists and checking them twice. While you may have heard about scams targeting holiday shoppers, did you know that identity thieves employ a much larger arsenal of tactics designed to take advantage of holiday distractions in order to get their hands on your personal data?
The “naughty list” of scammers’ sneaky methods
Scammers are always seeking to steal your data on the internet. But the dangers these criminals pose ramp up during the holidays, when you are in a hurry. There is a variety of ways for scammers to take you by surprise while you are surfing the web. Some of the most common ones are probably already familiar to you:
- Phishing emails: Scammers send out emails that look like they are from your trusted websites, but in fact are similar-looking forgeries. These emails often contain links asking you to enter missing personal information, verify login credentials, or provide financial information. But clicking and filling out these links simply provides the thieves with your details so they can use them or sell them on the dark web.
- Fake charities: We’ve all received phone calls from scammers claiming to be a well-meaning charity, asking you to donate money to their heartwarming cause. This type of scam increases during the holidays, when criminals rely on your increased generosity to get your cash or information.
- Cloned websites: Scammers design a fake site to lure you in. The cloned site might ask you to log in, when it will then redirect you to the real website and you won’t realize that you just gave up your information to a criminal.
Other ways that scammers turn you into a victim might be less well-known.
- Gift exchange scams: These online exchange pages claim that you could receive dozens of gifts after donating a single item worth $10 to a fellow participant. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. In addition to getting a free gift, the scammers now have access to your mailing address and can use your info for themselves.
- Fake shipping notifications: Fraudsters leave failed delivery notices in your mailbox or on your porch, mimicking shipping notifications from legitimate companies. But if you call the number on that fake notice, the scammer will try to extract private information from you. Don’t fall for it!
- Fake deal websites: These are different from the cloned websites mentioned above. LegalShield’s Chief Product Officer Scott Grissom explains it best: “Online scammers often set up dummy websites, auction listings or ads that offer popular items far below market value… That’s why you should verify that you’re shopping through a trusted retailer by checking the domain name in the browser. Sometimes emails or online ads promising great deals will direct you to scam sites designed to look like a trusted retailer.”
There are many more minute ways that a scammer can take advantage of your goodwill and lowered guard in the holiday season. But there are ways to safeguard your personal information.
The “nice list” of ways you can protect yourself
Simply because criminals use people’s charitable nature against them doesn’t mean you have to stop giving to online charities or shopping from an online retailer. It is possible to protect yourself online. Just be aware. If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Always check website URLs to see if they begin with https://, which means they are secured and legitimate. Contact companies and charities directly, the way you normally would; don’t go the “easy way” and click links or use phone numbers provided in emails or shipping notices.
Of course, the best way to protect yourself is to sign up with an IDShield Membership today. IDShield monitors your Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and provides you with a free monthly credit report. We scan the dark web to ensure that your information hasn’t been stolen and put up for sale. You have access to 24/7 live support and consultation if identity theft does occur or if you just have questions about your online privacy. And if you do experience suspicious activity, our Licensed Private Investigators do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to get your identity back under your control.