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December 1, 2020

Three Ways to Avoid Common Holiday Scams

The holiday season is a time of cheer and generosity. It’s also a time for increased fraud and scams. This year, the percentage of consumers shopping online has increased significantly, with many more Americans choosing to stay home and make purchases online to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.1 With the winter holidays fast approaching and online shopping season in full swing, we want to remind you about staying vigilant to avoid fraud. Here are three ways to foil the fraudsters’ attempts to get at your money and personal information with holiday scams.

Be cautious when online shopping.

Though you may be tempted by emails advertising sales, be careful to only visit trusted websites. Don’t open attachments or click on links within emails you didn’t ask to receive. Did you receive an email from a brand you’ve never heard of advertising cut-rate prices on name brand merchandise? Chances are, if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The FBI warns that scammers can use email marketing to steal your personal information, so be wary about what you click and where you choose to make purchases.2 When in doubt, you should visit the brand’s website directly through an internet search, rather than navigating from an email link.

Protect your personal information.

If someone is asking for your personal information, it’s a major red flag, whether the person claims to be from a government agency, retail store or charitable organization. Never give out personal information, such as credit card numbers or bank account numbers, over the phone or in an email. A tip from the FBI? Verify all requests for personal information from any business or financial institution by contacting them using the main contact information on their official website.2 Only use secure Wi-Fi networks when shopping online because using a public Wi-Fi network to conduct any purchase is risky.

Don’t let your heart run away with your head.

Phishers can make very convincing spam links to get your information by pretending to be charities, taking advantage of consumer goodwill during the holidays. Avoid clicking links in unsolicited emails, even if they tug at your heartstrings. Always search for the charity’s official website directly to make sure you’re on the real site, especially when donating money or conducting any other financial transaction. Learn more about phishing scams.

Stay informed about new scams.

As online scams are on the rise, you’ll want to stay updated about ways to protect yourself. In addition to the tips above, we recommend scamspotter.org and FBI Cybercrime as resources to learn more about avoiding these scams. Grow Financial and other legitimate affiliated companies will never ask you for your PIN, login password or Social Security number via email. If you see suspicious activity on your account or receive any suspicious phone calls, please let us know right away by calling 800.839.6328.

Do you believe you’ve been the victim of holiday scams or an online or internet-enabled crime? File a report with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) as soon as possible. Visit ic3.gov for more information, including tips and updates about current crime trends. You can also find support and further help at fraudsupport.org.

1Adobe Analytics Data reported by Digital Commerce 360. Published Nov. 11, 2020. Accessed Nov. 19, 2020.
2FBI Press Release: Beware of Holiday Scams. Released Nov. 27, 2019. Accessed Nov. 19, 2020.


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