December is finally here! If you have not already started shopping for the holidays, chances are it’s next on your list. And, what is on a scammers list? They are trying to get your personal information or steal your money. Cybercriminals know that goodwill and distraction are at a seasonal high, so it is the perfect time for them to strike unsuspecting shoppers. To protect yourself from a scammer wreaking havoc on your Christmas, it is important to educate yourself and learn the telltale signs of scams to watch out for. NC Community Credit Union is committed to helping you keep your money safe this holiday season, so here are some things to watch out for when it comes to scams.
- If you receive an email or text message that appears to be from a store you shop at and promises an unusually good deal, think twice. Be mindful of every URL you click and keep an eye out for unusual wording or misspellings. For example, Amazon.com is NOT the same as Amaz0n.com.
- When purchasing holiday gifts online, make sure that the site you are shopping on is an active business before entering payment information. Small business and abandoned sites are more susceptible to having their websites compromised with skimmers – digital credit card readers to intercept payment information.
- Social media platforms can be full of scams. According to the Federal Trade Commission, shopping scams, primarily found on Facebook and Instagram, comprised 44% of social media fraud in the first half of 2023. The most common is a simple scam: scammers take payment for an item, and never deliver the product. Before you buy something from a post online, check out the account behind it to confirm the offer is legitimate.
- Many choose to spread Christmas cheer by donating money to a favorite cause. Scammers can take advantage of this goodwill by soliciting donations to fraudulent charities. Be wary of charities that ask for donations through wire, mobile or online money transfer.
- Avoid making online purchases while connected to public or unsecured internet. It is fairly easy for a scammer to intercept your personal data, including credit card numbers and login credentials on a public connection.
If you notice unusual activity on your accounts, you can minimize the damage by taking the following steps:
- Alert NC Community Credit Union immediately
- Report the crime to local law enforcement
- Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission
Don’t let fraud dampen your holiday spirits. The important thing is to take extra care when making holiday purchases to be mindful of your surroundings and the platforms where you store your banking information. We hope everyone has a safe and very Merry Christmas!