It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and it’s also a time to be on high alert for holiday scams.
When anyone sees an email bringing attention to the delivery of packages or an offer of a great deal from high-profile retailers, it’s normal to take action and check into it because these are typical, everyday commercial activities during the holidays.
The RBFCU Enterprise Fraud Management Department is advising everyone to be vigilant when it comes to seeing emails with these messages.
“Fraudsters take advantage of the current environment in any way they can in an attempt to get information from consumers,” said Brian Munsterteiger, RBFCU Vice President-Enterprise Fraud Management. “The holidays are a perfect time to exploit that, with all the emails confirming package shipments, delivery dates, etc. Consumers should be cautious of the emails they receive, especially those containing links. An email from a fraudster posing as a popular online merchant (Amazon, BestBuy, etc.) or carrier (FedEx, UPS, etc.) is a way to get consumers to click on malicious links.”
Since more people may be more at ease about returning to in-person shopping at retail outlets, or they are acting more quickly with their holiday shopping lists because they’ve heard that supply chain issues may be reducing inventories, that doesn’t mean they should forget about the security of their accounts and personal information.
Tip No. 1: Be cautious to open links found in emails or texts that mention you won a free gift card or prize, especially if it’s from an unknown number. If you did not enter to win any prizes, do not open the links.
“People purchase more during the holidays and often aren’t as cautious,” Munsterteiger said. “We’ve seen an uptick in members giving out a ‘one-time passcode’ that is meant as an extra layer of security for signing in to online sites or adding debit/credit cards to mobile wallets. Fraudsters scam consumers into giving up this 6-digit code so they can get access to their accounts/cards.”
Munsterteiger noted it’s a good idea to remind everyone that a one-time passcode should never be relayed to anyone on the phone. “Of any type of phishing we see,” Munsterteiger said. “This is by far the thing that leads to the most fraud.”
Tip No. 2: A one-time passcode should never be relayed to anyone on the phone.
There are scams seen online that are related to getting free items/gift cards, or sites touting extremely discounted travel, that are abundant through the holidays. It could be a fake site that’s been set up to collect your personal information.
Fear tactics remain popular during the holidays.
“One of the easiest ways fraudsters get consumers to feel fear is to tell them their account is compromised,” Munsterteiger said. “That’s especially the case if it’s one they use all the time (Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook.) We’ve seen scams that lead to the member giving up information because they were led to believe their account with a known company was shut down. During the holidays, consumers are even more anxious than they need to be if they think an account is shut down. This could lead to them doing things they normally wouldn’t do to get the account working again. This behavior falls right into the hands of the fraudsters.”
Tip No. 3: Check to see if your account is officially compromised by calling the customer service outreach number first. Do not give in to fear from a fraudster that you’re account is compromised.
If you or someone you know sees a fraud, scam, or bad business practice, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission at reportfraud.ftc.gov.
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