Tis the season… to be suspicious. Scammers put the pedal to the metal on fraudulent pitches this time of year in many ways and target older Americans and retirees.
Fake charity pitches and shopping sprees usually dominate the list of top scams. But there are many safeguards you can take to avoid fraud.
“Bad actors are looking for ways to monetize the activity and cheat you out of your hard-earned money,” says Dr. Stephanie Benoit-Kurtz, head of cybersecurity school at University of Phoenix College of Business and Information Technology. I asked Dr. Benoit-Kurtz about how you can protect yourself from the seasonal blizzard of scams:
- Do not reply to suspicious emails. “Bad actors still use email to get you to connect to them and click on links in the email. Don’t take this bait. If you receive an email that has a huge sense of urgency and wants you to click on the link to log into an account, be sure to contact the organization first through a phone number or email on their website to understand the validity and validity and nature of the request. It is better to contact the company from its original website or phone number than to provide account information and login and password information from a fake link.’
- Ignore unsolicited texts. Scammers continue to use text messages with links to get people to take action. Often, they pretend to be family, a friend, or an organization you may be working with. Again, the sense of urgency is RIGHT NOW and they are looking for you to submit a check, purchase and provide gift card information, or log into an account from this link. Validate the requester before taking any action.
- Avoid phone calls and voicemails. Believe it or not, bad actors still use phone calls and voicemails to lure unsuspecting victims. The caller generally poses as someone from a place that is likely to be familiar. The IRS and insurance companies, Apple
or maybe even Amazon
or PayPal. Never provide information over the phone about accounts, social security numbers, or any personal information until you have verified the identity of the person on the other end.
- Be extra careful about social media. Scams in this area continue to increase. Scammers who connect to you and then say they are someone you know and need cash immediately. Don’t drop it. If you receive a request for any money via social media, contact the person by phone to confirm their status. Never withdraw money or provide credit card information or gift cards on a social media platform.
According to Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “scammers most often try to use an organization you are familiar with. Medicare, IRS, Banking or Social Security and then leverage that conversation that compels you to take action,” Dr. Benoit-Kurtz.
There’s a lot of money in call scams: Consumers have been duped over $2.7 billions in fraud from social media alone. “Make sure you can 100% validate the applicant before providing any information or money,” adds Dr. Benoit-Kurtz.
In other words, enjoy the holidays and be happy, but also be extra cautious.