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Have Yourself a Swindle-free Season

Written by: Lyndsey (she/her)

3 min read | Published: December 18, 2023

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With the holiday season upon us, shoppers aren’t the only ones out in full force this year! Year after year, scammers implement old and new cons to steal identities and financial information. According to a survey by Experian, 24% of respondents admitted to being a victim of fraud or identity theft during the gift-giving season. To better protect yourself, read about some of the latest scams impacting shoppers and our tips for combating them.

Social Media Surveys

Being awarded money is a great way to cushion the expense of the holidays, but before you participate in an online survey or social media contest hoping to win a gift card or voucher, think twice! Many scammers create these opportunities in an attempt to steal your personal information to commit identity fraud or other crimes. When you come across these offers, look out for red flags. If they promise to pay a large amount, ask for personal information, can’t be verified by conducting a search of the business, or have negative reviews and complaints, don’t engage. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Package Delivery

Since the rise of Amazon and online shopping, many of us have found a new appreciation for the gift-giving season. With shopping made easier than ever in addition to more affordable and expedient delivery options available, more consumers are taking to the internet to avoid the holiday hustle. As you make purchases this season, take caution as you track your orders. Many scammers will send texts or emails asking you to click on links or make phone calls to receive package tracking details or update payment information to ensure your order is sent. Don’t fall victim no matter how urgent their messages seem! Clicking links or calling these numbers can open the fraud flood gates allowing the installation of malware, computer takeover, or your passwords and banking information to become compromised.

Instead, contact the organization with whom you placed the order or refer to documents they sent you to check on your purchase. To make this process easier, consider saving confirmation emails and order information in marked folders so you can easily access tracking numbers and payment details. Before logging into accounts or contacting a business, be sure to verify their URL to avoid navigating to a look-alike site.

Missed Package Delivery

Aside from the package delivery hoax, fraudsters are also employing “missed package” scams. In these scenarios, a scam artist sends an email or text — or even leaves a note on your door — saying your package couldn’t be delivered. You’re then instructed to call a number or click a link to reschedule delivery of the order. Upon clicking the link or calling the number, you’ll be asked a series of questions to obtain your personal and financial information for later fraudulent use. To avoid these scams, closely review the communication looking for errors or other red flags. You can also refer to your original order details to double-check the expected delivery date of your purchase or obtain tracking information to locate your items with the shipping company itself. If you find yourself on the phone with a scammer, hang up and write down what information you provided so you can follow up with appropriate action.

The next time you receive a notification about a package or contest, take a moment to pause. Consider if the message or post makes sense and verify its validity using information and resources available to you. When in doubt, visit your financial institution or go to the Federal Trade Commission’s website to learn if what you’re experiencing is a scam. Have a safe and cheery holiday season!


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