The holidays are near. And that means holiday cheer, time with family, present shopping mayhem, and tons and tons of potential scams.
The U.S. Postal Service is warning residents about these potential, holiday-centric scams, such as fraudulent attempts to steal your personal information.
Phony gift exchanges, like the Secret Sister Gift Exchange:
Social media has become the new gateway for scammers. Don't be the next person who gets duped! The particular scam mentioned above promises its unlucky victim sup to 36 gifts as a reward for participating.
Those who agree to take part in the spoof are urged to send a gift to the first "sister" on the list -- most likely names of family and friends are attached -- so victim's believe it's a legitimate program.
Then, the name and contact information provided by the victim that chooses to take part gets sold to others that send more solicitations for other scams. None of the 36 gifts are actually involved.
Foreign Phishing Scams
In some cases, scams originate from other countries. This makes it difficult, or close to impossible, for authorities to retrieve money or items lost to scammers.
The scams could be veiled as enticing offers via email -- ones that would seem foolish for the victim not to take advantage of. Some scams increasingly steal your personal information over time, which puts people at risk for identity theft.
If you receive an email with a crazy-good offer, say a BOGO iPhone X deal, contact your wireless company or company that is advertising the deal to confirm before hitting "add to cart."
Keep the golden rule in mind: If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is!
Fake phone calls
With the holidays creating a whirlwind of extra plans to be added to our to-do lists, slipping up on paying your monthly bills is quite the possibility. Even if you have paid your bills, it's quite possible you may get a phone call stating that your bills haven't been paid.
Whenever customers receive phone calls from these so-called utility companies or creditors, hang up! Seriously, just HANG UP! Hang up, call that utility company back, provide your name and account number, and inquire whether or not the company has been trying to reach you.
Unfortunately, about 99% of the time, the utility company will say that was not us. When you are not making the phone call, you do not know where it is coming from.
The door-hanging scam
Cyber-thieves may use the busy holiday shipping season to steal personal information a number of ways. Whether you're expecting a package or not, be on the lookout for fake “we missed you, call us” package delivery door-hangers. It's a way for thieves to steal your personal information.
With door-hanging scams, your name, address and a company phone number will be on the note. Don’t call the number – the scammers will try to pry your bank account or credit account number from you and ask you questions no credible business would ask.
Phony donation requests
The holidays mark a season for giving. Unfortunately, though, not all opportunities to give are legitimate.
People have often received phone calls where the caller identifies themselves as working for the local County Sheriff’s Office... or a well-known charitable organization. They then ask for a holiday donation. This has great potential for being a scam.
We'll go back to what we mentioned before -- hang up and call the organization directly. If you are truly interested in donating this holiday season, that is a wonderful thing! But reach out yourself.
If you hang up and then call the organization on your end to make a legitimate donation, no one will have hurt feelings that you disconnected prior.
Be safe this holiday season, and avoid a scam-free winter!