Be Prepared: It's the Most Fraudulent Time of the Year
The holidays are quickly approaching again. Traditionally, the holiday season marks a time when fraudsters ramp up their scams and schemes. The top two frauds most prevalent during the holiday season, as reported by the FBI, are non-delivery and non-payment schemes. In a non-delivery scam, consumers purchase goods they never receive; in a non-payment scam, sellers send items to a consumer but never receive payment for the item. As with most scams, verification is vital before purchasing or sending merchandise.
In 2023, fraud saw an increase in social engineering scams and schemes. These types of fraud use psychological deception designed to exploit human vulnerabilities. A large portion of social engineering starts with phishing phone calls (vishing) and SMS text messages (smishing). Always be wary of unsolicited phone calls or text messages, even if the number is known. Remember, a best practice is disconnecting or ceasing a conversation and verifying the solicitor. This can be done with a callback, researching the person requesting information, or contacting local authorities or fraud experts for help. Legitimate businesses, services, or providers will understand, follow, and allow this best practice for your safety and theirs.
Tips to Avoid Holiday Scams
- Verify websites before purchasing merchandise.
- Double-check URL information by hovering over the link with your cursor.
- Do NOT click on suspicious websites or social media posts.
- Do NOT click on hyperlinks in emails or texts.
- Be suspicious of phone calls from unknown numbers.
- Be suspicious of links asking to update passwords or account information.
- Never send money directly to a seller via wire.
- Use a credit card for payments and check the statement regularly for suspicious transactions.
- Avoid donations, charities, or fundraisers that must be done immediately or pressured for time.
- Look closely at items that are deeply discounted with online purchasing.