Fraudsters and scammers are always on the prowl, but experts say fraud attempts increase about 30 percent during the holiday season. So while you’re taking advantage of holiday shopping deals, fraudsters are looking to take advantage of you to steal your identity and run up charges on your accounts. Follow these tips to help protect yourself from fraud during the holidays.
- Do Not Answer Calls from Unknown Numbers - If you are not expecting a call, don't answer the phone. If the caller needs something they will leave a voicemail. If the voicemail has a phone number to call back, it’s best to confirm that number is correct for the company they claim to be calling from. Fraudsters will give out fake phone numbers and will request sensitive information like card numbers, account numbers, and social security numbers. Err on the side of caution, do not respond, and proactively reach out to your financial institution to confirm if the call or message you received was legitimate.
- Be Wary of Email - The same rule applies to email. If you are not expecting an email, you should use caution. Many phishing emails contain links for hackers to take over computers.
- Use Social Media Safely - Many times, scam artists use Facebook or other social media platforms to lure in their victims. A very common social media scam: Jeff uses Facebook Marketplace to sell a lawn mower for $500 and is given a $5,000 check for the payment. The Fraudster asks for $4,500 back because they “accidently” overpaid, or wants to pay for shipping. Jeff pays the scammer, and in a few days the check is returned for invalid funds, leaving Jeff at a total loss. Jeff is now owes his bank $4,500.
- Keep a close eye on transaction history - It’s always important to review your account information regularly, but it’s especially critical during the holiday season, when you’re likely spending more than usual. In the event of unauthorized transactions or discrepancies in your account, continual monitoring of your account will help if you need to flag suspicious activity to your bank.
- Set Account Alerts- Most financial institutions offer customizable transaction alerts via email or text. Setting alerts can help you better manage your account (no more overdraft fees!) while also giving you peace of mind that no one else is accessing your accounts. Want to be alerted about any transaction over $50? Easy. Want to get pinged for every transaction you make with a debit card? Done.