Holiday scams are one of the hottest topics this season each year. Naughty scammers work diligently to fool the nice. And because most of us are so busy with our attention divided among children’s activities, holiday shopping, food, and festivities – they often catch us off guard.
This (and every!) holiday season we urge you to have a Holiday Scams Action Plan. A Holiday Scams Action Plan is a set of rules designed to keep you alert and focused and safeguard you against the most common holiday scams and new ones as they develop.
10 Rules to Keep You from Falling for the Biggest Scams this Holiday Season
- If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- If you receive an email and something seems “phishy” about it, listen to your gut and proceed with caution. Email remains one of the most common avenues used by scammers.
- If someone sends you an email asking for personal information so they can send you money, run! These people are most likely gathering bits of information about you that they can piece together and try to steal your identity!
- Speaking of email, don’t click on unknown links! If you receive an email with interesting content that you want to know more about, perform a Google search to dig into the validity of what’s being presented.
- Charity scams are at an all-time high during the holiday season. This type of scam will pull at your heart-strings and entice you to give to fake organizations. Anytime you are considering a donation to charity, do your research! Make sure it is a real charity and look even further to find out how much of your money will go to the advertised cause.
- Another way that scammers try to appeal to your humanity is through desperation. Either they are desperate because they are, for example, in another country and unable to access what they need. Or, they could be appealing to your desperation as you struggle to pay for Christmas gifts and festivities while maintaining your regular bill payments during the holiday season. They may claim they have a disability such as being deaf or mute, and that is why they cannot possibly talk to you by phone. The scammer may threaten you, saying that you will be in legal trouble if you do not respond to their request. If you detect a vibe of desperation and you think someone really could be in trouble, send them to a public agency that can help. If they are a scammer, they will simply ignore you and move onto the next victim. If they are genuine, the agency can direct them to the appropriate resource for their needs. Anytime you feel threatened, report the activity to the proper authorities. The threat will likely not stop with you! Protect yourself and protect others by reporting their actions.
- Scammers don’t just target you through email. Social media is another huge opportunity for them to mark you as their prey. Scammers are crafty. Just as businesses target their market to connect consumers with legitimate products and services, scammers use the same tactics to reel you in. Be aware of click-bait headlines, investigate friend requests thoroughly and watch out for other suspicious content designed to lure you in.
- Make a point to educate yourself about trending holiday scams as well as old-school scams so that you are prepared to catch these naughty scammers in action!
- Develop a process for dealing with suspicious content, whether through email, social media, or elsewhere. This is important on all levels, but especially in the office where you have many employees that could be subject to attack. All employees should know what to watch out for and what to do if they think they’ve been targeted.
- If you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam, address it right away. If you don’t know what to do, turn to a technology provider for help. They are highly experienced and knowledgeable in this area and can save you many hours of research time and often, from a big headache!
Stay on Your Toes!
Some holiday scams are blatantly obvious while more intelligent scam artists use subtle techniques to draw you in. When one scam fails to get them what they want, they must develop new ways to fool you, so methods are evolving constantly. The best way to avoid holiday scams is to continue to educate yourself on trending scams, remain cautious, and protect yourself against malware and spyware with anti-virus software. Stay one step ahead at all times and keep yourself from being victimized by these naughty scammers.