Preventing Holiday Shopping Scams
December is National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month, and there’s a reason it’s in December. This is the busiest shopping month of the year, and scammers are just waiting for us to slip up both online and in person so they can steal our personal information.
Identity theft is a crime that happens when someone tries to use your credit cards, other accounts and/0r your name without your permission. In most cases, the thief is buying things with your money or taking out loans in your name so you get stuck paying them back.
We’ve gathered some information about the most popular holiday shopping scams and provide them below with information on how to avoid becoming a victim.
Online Shopping Scams
Scammers make websites that look real and claim to sell things super cheap. If you buy from these sites, you might get nothing or something different from what the website shows. Be careful of big discounts online. If everyone is selling the most popular Christmas gift for a lot more money, an extremely low price is most likely too good to be true. Stick to shopping with stores you know are safe.
Gift Card Scams
Be careful with gift cards! Criminals might mess with cards in stores or steal money from activated cards online. To stay safe, buy gift cards directly from the store’s website and register them if you can. Use the card as soon as possible so that you can spend the money before a thief does. When purchasing a gift card in a physical store, either buy one that is kept behind or in the register, one that is in a package that covers the gift card number completely or one that does not have the four-digit security PIN exposed. Otherwise, you could be purchasing a gift card someone has already used.
Be careful with texts from strangers! Some criminals send texts saying there’s a problem with your delivery when there isn’t. They might say your address is wrong or the postage is not enough. They ask you to click a link or call a number to fix the problem.
Don’t click on any links in those texts. Instead, type the website address directly into your browser, use the official app if you have it or call the shipping company using a real phone number. Don’t just search on Google for the number. Go to the official website to find it. Thieves sometimes pay for fake phone number listings.
Use caution while shopping this holiday season and never provide more personal information than is necessary to make a purchase. The more difficult your make it for a thief to obtain your information, the better your chances of him or her moving on to the next victim.