Don’t Be a Victim of Holiday Scams

The Christmas and New Year holidays have arrived, a joyous time of year and a busy time preparing for celebration including seasonal shopping. But be warned criminals are also very busy at this time of year. The Pension Boards Information Technology team is providing the following tips to help you protect your finances and personal information from theft.

Online Shopping Deals

Don’t click on ads or emails for deals that are too good to be true. Make purchases at your favorite online store by navigating directly to the site using your browser or an official mobile app for your phone. Only shop from popular shopping websites that you know and trust. A lot of fake shopping websites pop up around the holiday season with enticingly-low prices so please use extreme caution!

Charity or Donation Requests

2020 was a difficult year for many, and legitimate charities and non-profits need help. Unfortunately, criminals take advantage by pretending to be charitable organizations. They may email or even call asking you for a credit card number to use for “donations”. As a rule, never give your credit card information over the phone to anyone who calls unexpectedly. If you receive an email from a charity or non-profit asking for donations, review the links, sender address, and other parts of the email to make sure it is legitimate. The safest way is to go directly to the charity or non-profit’s official website and donate through their site.

Delivery or Shipment Notifications

If you receive an unexpected delivery notification, you may think you’ve received a gift or a delivery you’ve been waiting for. Instead, that notification could be a phishing attack. These attacks are successful during this season because people are expecting more deliveries than normal. Stay alert and protect yourself, look closely at delivery and shipment notifications to make sure they are legitimate. If you shop online, go directly to the retailer’s website to track your orders and shipments rather than click links in emails.

Fake Receipts or Financial Statements

Since more people than ever are doing their holiday shopping online, criminals know you may be receiving lots of email receipts. You may also be receiving credit card or banking statements that list recent charges on your account. If you receive a receipt from a company you buy from regularly, look at it closely before clicking any links or opening any attachments. If you don’t recognize the purchase, don’t click anything. Remember that phishing emails try to trick you into clicking without thinking. If you see an email receipt with a very expensive purchase or a “late payment” that you don’t recognize, the email might not be legitimate. Always visit a company’s official website to review your purchases by typing the web address into your browser window or using their mobile app.

Always remember: Never click on links or open attachments in an email that you weren’t expecting or is from an unknown or untrusted source. This one rule will help you avoid many common holiday hacker tactics.