The holidays bring joyful gatherings with family and friends, festively decorated food and gifts tied up with bows. Keep the season bright by avoiding these common attempts to steal your personal information.
“Fraudsters are smart and manipulative, so we have to be mindful of what we share on the internet,” says Tracy Swaim, Fraud investigation supervisor.
Social Media Scams
Be wary of “like and share” posts. Answering a social media post about your grandmother’s holiday traditions may seem harmless, but fraudsters can use these personal details to answer security questions tied to your important accounts.
Fraudsters set up email addresses very similar to a business or company name. If you receive an email asking for payment, verify the email address is correct before sending any funds. Legitimate online shopping websites should feature a payment option and not email you to ask for payment.
When planning holiday travel, use secure and reputable sites to book your flights and accommodations. It’s a good idea to call the hotel directly and confirm your reservation. You can also search the name of the travel company, hotel, rental or agent with the words “scam,” “review,” or “complaint” to see if there are any red flags.
If you want to get into the spirit of giving, donate to a charity through its official website. Before entering your credit card information, click around the website first, looking to make sure there are working and correct links, a clear explanation of the organization’s purpose and https:// at the beginning of the web address.
Phony Gift Cards
Buying a gift card for that person who’s hard to please? Only purchase gift cards from official outlets and keep your receipt as proof of purchase. Don’t fall for “claim your free gift card” offers on social media, even if the advertisement features well-known brands.
Talk to your elderly family members about fraudsters who may call them pretending to be a relative, usually a grandchild, stranded without money and asking them to wire funds. No matter what the caller says, always hang up
Temporary Holiday Job Scams
Need some extra cash during the holiday season? Only give your personal information to an official source for a job listing. Visit or call the business to ensure the job listing is legitimate before sharing any personal details.
Swaim advises people to talk to their family members about scams and how to avoid fraud. “You’re less likely to fall for a scheme if you’ve already heard about it.”