How was your Thanksgiving? Great, we hope!
How about Black Friday? Cyber Monday? Are you into those type of things? Personally, I typically avoid these shopping rushes in general, but there’s no question they’re incredibly popular and overwhelmingly successful.
So if you do participate – heck, even if you simply plan on shopping at all online this holiday season (like 100% of us do), you have to beware: scammers want in on that holiday gift budget.
Shoppers are expected to spend roughly 4.1% more this holiday season than in 2017, which equates to around $720.89 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.
Can you imagine the criminal element’s attraction to a number like that?
Last year, according to Payments Next, online fraud attempts increased by 22% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. Between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday alone, malware infections jumped 123%, according to data released by Enigma Software Group.
Here are some of the seasonal scams the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers to watch out for, and how to fraud-proof your holiday shopping…
Just as you wouldn’t want to buy a designer watch from a guy in some dark and creepy alleyway, you don’t want to buy anything online from a seller you haven’t fully investigated.
One place to start is by searching the BBB’s online directory, which can tell you if the business is accredited, and whether or not the BBB has received complaints.
Truth be told, you should probably check to see if they’re even in the database. Because if not, well, that’s a concern. You can also do a general Google search which will pull up a lot of information about that company and their website.
In addition to checking the Better Business Bureau listings, the Federal Trade Commission says to make certain the website includes a physical address and a phone number, and verify them. That way you have a place to contact should things go wrong.
Fake Shipping Notices
This year the BBB is also warning of fake email delivery notices that say you have a package on its way.
It’s probably common sense that an actual delivery company isn’t going to email you about a package, right? How would they have your email address? But I suppose you can’t be too careful during the time of year where you’re conducting online orders left and right. Amazon emails begin to run together and suddenly an email claiming to be from a delivery service doesn’t seem all that strange…
But you have to keep your head on a swivel. DO NOT click on any links. It’s most likely malware, or at the very least, going to ask you for personal information like credit card numbers or addresses. Before you know it, you’ve just participated in the theft of your own identity.
Legitimate carriers will never ask you for personal information through email.
Several trusted companies offer charming and personalized letters from Santa, but scammers mimic them to get personal information from unsuspecting parents. Check with the BBB to find out which ones are legitimate.
The big risk here isn’t that your kid won’t hear from Santa, but that you’re providing key details to a phisher who will use it to perpetuate other fraud or identity theft.
Did you also know that scams come with philanthropy?
The holidays are a wonderful time to support your favorite causes, but to ensure that your funds go where you desire, you’ve got to make sure the group is legit.
According to nonprofit rating site Charity Navigator, roughly 40% of all charitable donations are made in the last few weeks of the year. So, you better believe scams pop up in the form of donation solicitations via email, social media, and text.
Common charity scams include look-alike sites or imposter websites, phony emails that are “phishing” for personal information or giving a check or cash to an individual as opposed to an organization.
BBB’s Give.org is a great resource to research legitimacy.