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FRAUD

The Grinch Who Stole Your Money: How to Recognize and Avoid Holiday Scams

Written by: Therese (she/her)

3 min read | Published: December 25, 2023

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The holiday season is a time of joy, generosity, and celebration. But it’s also a time when scammers try to take advantage of people’s festive moods and busy schedules. Fraudsters use various tricks and schemes to steal money, personal information, or online accounts from unsuspecting victims. According to the FBI, Americans lost over $10 billion to fraudsters in 2022, which was more than a $3 billion jump from 2021.

To protect yourself and your loved ones from becoming a scammer’s next victim, you need to be aware of the common fraud scams around the holidays and how to avoid them. Here are some of the most prevalent scams and how to spot them.

Online Shopping Scams

Scammers offer deals through phishing emails or advertisements that lead you to fake online stores. These stores may look legitimate, but they are designed to steal your money, credit card details, or personal information. To avoid online shopping scams, check the URL of the website you are visiting and make sure it has https in the web address. It’s also a good idea to do some research on the company and the product before making a purchase and avoid clicking on suspicious links or attachments in emails, on websites, or on social media.

Social Media Scams

Fraudsters may use social media sites that appear to offer vouchers or gift cards. These scams often lead consumers to complete online surveys designed to steal personal information. Sometimes, scammers may also hijack your friend’s account and send you messages asking for money or gift cards. Be cautious with whom you share your personal or financial information, and always verify the identity of the person who contacted you. Be skeptical of offers that seem too good to be true and report any suspicious activity to the social media platform.

Work-from-home Scams

Around the holidays, you may be looking at different ways to make a little extra money. Since the pandemic, there has been an increase in work from home opportunities posted by fraudsters on websites and social media. These types of scams may ask you to pay a fee to get started, or to provide your personal or financial information. However, these jobs are either nonexistent or illegal, and you may end up losing money or getting involved in criminal activities. You should never have to pay an employer to get a job and be sure to always research the company and job offer before applying. Never share your personal or financial information with strangers and report any suspicious job postings to the website you found it on, to the authorities, and your state’s attorney general’s office

Fake Charities

Scammers may also create fake charities or GoFundMe campaigns to trick you into sending money or sharing your personal information. These scams regularly use emotional appeals, such as helping children, animals, or disaster victims, or may impersonate well-known organizations or causes. Always research the charity before donating and use a secure and traceable payment method. You should also avoid giving cash, gift cards, or money through wire transfers, and never share your financial information with unsolicited callers or emailers.

The holiday season is a time to enjoy and celebrate, not to worry and stress. By being aware of the common fraud scams around the holidays and how to avoid them, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from becoming a scammer’s next victim. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you encounter a scam, be sure to report it to the appropriate authorities so they can better monitor these trends and prevent others from falling prey. Happy holidays and stay safe!

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