As the holiday season gets underway, an overall feeling of cheer and kindness seems to take hold of many people, which is a very good thing. This time of year involves gatherings, parties and a time for reflection and accounting of all the past year’s blessings. Unfortunately, there are many “scammers” who seek to ruin all the compassion and goodwill by tricking people into false schemes and promotions. Don’t let the Grinch steal your joy; be wary of these popular holiday scams:
• Free gift cards and coupons – Many websites will offer these goodies to get you to input your personal information. They can then take this information and raid your online accounts.
• Postal failure delivery – taking advantage of the fact that more people are shipping gifts this time of year, these email notifications generally provide a link for you to click on to correct the alleged delivery problem. The email often looks like an official notification from a popular carrier, i.e., U.S. Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, etc. Once you click on the link, it will then ask you to input personal data that can be used to steal your identity and hack your accounts.
• Ransomware – many people will receive an email asking that a ransom be paid, or the person’s computer will be targeted by a hacker. Unfortunately, this has become more prevalent in recent years and has caused millions of dollars in damages to individuals and businesses.
• Local vendor deals – Many people will receive notifications from alleged business that operate in your area and appear to be legitimate. They may advertise free tickets to movies, coupons or even preferred pricing. Again, they usually ask you to enter your personal data to qualify. Just another ploy to get information to hack your accounts.
• Charity tricksters – These solicitations can be sent through email or via regular postal delivery. They almost always play on your emotions and pray for you to help those less fortunate during this holiday season. They may even use the names of legitimate charities but provide a different link or address.
The best way to avoid those “Scrooges” who would prey on your kindness and goodwill toward others is to be critical of those seeking things from you. You don’t have to lose your compassion, just double check the people you are dealing with before you click on that link, fill out that form or write that check. We don’t want you having to say, “Bah humbug” during this holiday season!
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