How to Stay Safe From Common
Every year, thousands of people fall victims to holiday scams and this year will likely be no different. In 2021 alone, Americans lost over $6.9 billion to fraudsters, including $337 million in online shopping and non-delivery scams, according to the FBI. Holiday scams aim to capitalize on the increase in online shopping and travel during the holiday season by trying to trick you into giving up money, gift cards, or sensitive information. These scams can rear their ugly head through online ads, social media, misleading phone calls, phishing emails, as well as text messages. They will often be carefully crafted to look and sound just like they came from a legitimate retailer or business. Whether you’re buying or selling this holiday season, there are a number of different ways you can help protect you and your finances so that you don’t become a victim of fraud, or even worse, identity theft.
Keep You and Your Finances Safe and Secure
While there are a number of different measures you can take to ensure you’re protecting yourself while shopping, these items are some of the most important, especially during the busy holiday shopping season.
- Multi-Factor Authentication- If you have an option to turn on multi-factor authentication, don’t think twice! This feature requires you to take an extra step to verify your identity before you can log in to your account(s), and it could help keep your information safe in the event your account's password is compromised.
- Diversify Your Passwords- In the event one of your accounts ends up being compromised, the last thing you want is for the culprit to have access to all of your accounts. Having a unique, difficult to crack password for each account can help keep your information safe. If you’re worried about remembering so many different passwords, consider a password manager.
- Don’t Shop on a Public Wi-Fi Network or Public Computer- This is an easy way for hackers and scammers to acquire your information as most public Wi-Fi networks are not secure.
- Monitor Your Transactions- Paying extra lose attention to your transaction history can help ensure you don’t become a victim of fraud. A great way to monitor fraud is to sign up for Visa Purchase Alerts. This allows you to receive real-time alerts via text or e-mail whenever a purchase is made with your Visa debit or credit card that meets the criteria chosen during enrollment. You can also setup some transactional Alerts in our Digital Banking platform. The card Management widget within Digital Banking allows you to easily block and unblock your card for any transactions. You also can add a Travel Notice to your card so that your card doesn’t get denied while conducting any transactions while traveling.
Scams to Be on the Lookout For
Gift Card Scams
Scammers gravitate towards gift cards because they’re nearly impossible to trace and like cash, once they’re gone, they’re gone. Lots of holiday scams will revolve around the buying and selling of fraudulent gift cards. Scammers may even try to hold your account information hostage and request a ransom to be paid only in gift cards.
Text Message Scams
This involves the scammer sending fake package delivery notifications via text message, in hopes that you’ll click on the link. These texts will take you to a fraudulent website that is designed to either steal your personal information, ask for your credit card number, or fool you into sending them money.
Lots of scammers are creating Facebook pages and posts that promote sales or discounts on popular items that seem too good to be true. Be sure to check the page posting this particular sale/item. Is it a verified page with a lot of followers? If it’s a popular item like a Nintendo Switch and it’s not the official Nintendo page, it’s likely a scam.
While there often times are business who do giveaways to help promote their items, you may start to notice a lot of scammers creating fake pages associated with the giveaway. Often times, these pages will send a message claiming that you’re the winner and they just need some of your personal information, including your card information to cover the cost of shipping.
Unfortunately, when it comes to scammers, nothing is off limits, including taking advantage of the generosity of individuals, particularly during the holiday season. Make sure you’re only giving to the charities that you’re familiar with and that you verify all information before sending any donation.
If it seems too good to be true, it likely is, especially around the holiday season. Beware of current scams going around on social media and other websites. You may have come across the Target coupon for $75 off your purchase or a Black Friday coupon for Best Buy for $50 off your purchase. These coupons are in fact fake and often require you to enter in personal information before you can “obtain the coupon.”
In the event you fall victim to any scam, it’s important to contact the card holder immediately to dispute the charges, whether it’s LOC or another financial institution. Remember, if a deal or offer seems too good to be true, it likely is. Scams will come in all shapes and sizes and scammers will do whatever they can to try and obtain your personal information. Be diligent, be wary, don’t click on any unfamiliar links in text messages or e-mails. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially during the busy holiday season. Most importantly, remember that LOC will never initiate contact with you to ask for personal information. If you have any questions or concerns with your LOC account, please do not hesitate to reach out to us!