Fraudsters work overtime during the holiday shopping season to steal personal and financial information.
A recent Experian survey found that 24% of respondents reported being a victim of identity theft or fraud during the holidays, up from 12% in 2019.
And thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, 62% of Americans say they'll do more of their shopping online compared with last year, creating additional opportunities for scammers.
By exercising a little vigilance, you can avoid becoming a victim. Consider these 12 holiday fraud prevention tips:
Holiday Fraud Prevention Tip #1: Don’t fall for the Amazon scheme. Be wary of calls from people claiming to be from Amazon or similar shopping sites needing to verify the information for packages. Amazon will never call you to request bank account information.
Holiday Fraud Prevention Tip #2: Prevent porch piracy. Having your package delivered to your work, choosing the “ship to store” option, or requesting a signature confirmation are all ways to keep your deliveries safe. You can also track your shipments to ensure you are home when your packages arrive.
Holiday Fraud Prevention Tip #3: Shop sites you know. The best way to keep your credit card information safe this holiday season is to shop sites you know.
Holiday Fraud Prevention Tip #4: Check banking activity. Keep a list of transactions if you’re doing a lot of holiday shopping so you don’t overlook a fraudulent transaction. Regularly check your accounts and credit cards and report fraud immediately to your bank.
Holiday Fraud Prevention Tip #5: Update your antivirus software. Ensure your antivirus software is up-to-date to help protect yourself while shopping online.
Holiday Fraud Prevention Tip #6: Avoid public Wi-Fi. Do not conduct online shopping or banking using public Wi-Fi networks, which are not always secure.
Holiday Fraud Prevention Tip #7: Use different passwords. Avoid using the same password across multiple sites. If one is compromised, you won’t be handing over your password to other sites.
Holiday Fraud Prevention Tip #8: Set up alerts. Set up email or text alerts with your credit card company so you are notified of any purchases made with your card.
Holiday Fraud Prevention Tip #9: Avoid too-good-to-be-true offers. Beware of fraudsters trying to lure you in with amazing deals during the holidays. These sites may look legitimate, but when you place your order, you’re handing over your personal and financial data. If it appears too good to be true, it probably is.
Holiday Fraud Prevention Tip #10: Be cautious about shipping notices. With so many people ordering online and awaiting packages, fraudsters send phishing emails purporting to be from shipping carriers such as FedEx or UPS. When you click on the link, it can download malware on your computer. Use extra caution to ensure shipping notifications are legitimate.
Holiday Fraud Prevention Tip #11: Avoid charity scams. Most charitable giving occurs in December, so fraudsters create bogus charities to cash in on your generosity. Take time to verify an organization’s validity before donating.
Holiday Fraud Prevention Tip #12: Find a “real” Santa letter provider. There are legitimate businesses that offer custom letters from Santa. However, this is a great way for fraudsters to obtain personal information about your children. Verify the company’s legitimacy before providing personal information.
Catheryn Eisaman-Avalos is Zions Bancorporation’s Financial Crimes Risk Strategies manager.