Holiday Scams to Watch Out For

by Jonathan Smith

Fraud Operations Manager, CFE

Member Tips

‘Tis the season for holiday scams. In the world of fraud, the holidays near the end of the year mark a time in which fraudsters ramp up their scams and schemes. Fraudsters understand American culture has an element of giving during the holidays, which they exploit to try and get unsuspecting victims to send money. More recently fraudsters have begun using hyperlinks sent directly to victim’s cell phones via Short Messages Services containing compromising software or a link to a fake online website. Additionally, the FBI recently issued a Public Service Announcement on November 10th, 2020, highlighting impersonation of computer tech service representatives. The scam involves fraudsters posing as computer technical support and service techs attempting to help repair a computer. These are typical frauds we have covered in our previous articles that members should continue to watch out for, verify, and legitimize prior to conducting any purchases.

In addition to the most recent scams and schemes, the top two scams that are most prevalent during the holiday season as reported by the FBI are non-delivery and non-payments schemes. These scams work just how they sound. In a non-delivery scam consumers purchase goods which they never receive, and in a non-payment scam sellers send items to a consumer but never receive payment for the item. As with most scams, verification is vital prior to purchasing or sending any merchandise.

Tips for Holiday Scams

  • Verify websites for purchasing merchandise
  • Double check URL information
  • Do NOT click on suspicious websites or social media posts
  • Do NOT click on hyperlinks in emails or texts
  • Be suspicious of links asking to update passwords or account information
  • Never send money directly to a seller via wire
  • Avoid paying with a gift card
  • Use a credit card for payments and check the statement regularly for suspicious transactions
  • Avoid donations, charities, or fundraisers that must be done immediately or pressured for time
  • Look closely at items that are deeply discounted with online purchasing
  • Be wary of offers that seem “to good to be true”

As always, if you are ever suspicious of information about to purchases, donations, sending funds, or fraud related matters, you can contact Coastal’s Fraud Department.



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