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December 1, 2019

Recognizing Common Online Holiday Scams

While doing your online shopping, watch out for these common scams.

For scammers, the holidays are the perfect time of year to take advantage of people’s generosity and busy schedules to steal personal information and money. Those over the age of 65 are at greater risk because they are more likely to be homeowners, have retirement accounts, and excellent credit. Keep an eye out, scams can take many forms, including the following:

Fake Apps

A fake app made to look like a major retailer’s offering big discounts. Before downloading any apps, check the spelling of the business’ name and if it has customer reviews. If there are typos and no reviews, it’s likely fraudulent.

Loyal Customer Gift Card

A common retailer offers you a gift card reward and all you need to do is provide your information to apply. Ignore offers like these, it’s likely an attempt to steal your information.

Online Secret Shopper

A retailer sends you an email inviting you to be an online secret shopper. Some even say they’ll pay you, but need you to provide financial information for a deposit. Secret shoppers are rarely recruited by email or through social media. Avoid these likely fraudulent offers.

Problem with a Purchase

A retailer you shop at alerts you to an issue with your order via email and asks you to click a link and provide personal or payment information again. A real email from a retailer about an order will reference the order number and you would ask you to log in to your account on the retailer’s website rather than clicking an external link.

Grandparent or Relative Scam

While the holidays are a great time to reconnect with family, some scammers pretend to be a grandchild or other relative in trouble. Via email or fake social media pages, the scammer will reach out explaining they need help because of a financial, legal, or medical difficulty. Many will instruct the grandparent to not tell their parents. To avoid this scam, call your real family member directly at the number you had for them. In general, be wary of anyone requesting that you wire money. Remember that in a medical or legal emergency, money is rarely the immediate concern so you have time to do your due diligence.

Charity Cheats

Giving back is part of the holidays. Some scammers pose as employees or volunteers from reputable charities to solicit donations. Make sure your donations are to organizations you trust. Give directly to the charity using its preferred method by visiting their website. Visit the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance or CharityWatch to see if a charity is reputable.

Scammers can be clever. If you fall prey to a scheme, contact your local bank branch right away and we’ll do what we can to help.