Holiday Fraud

Cases of fraud are increasingly prevalent around the holidays. It’s essential to the security of your identity and finances that you’re aware of what holiday scams could look like.

Charity Scams

Fraudsters present a noble or urgent cause to try to convince you to donate your money to support their cause.

Common examples include:

  • Supporting children in need
  • Feeding your local community
  • Supporting veterans, children or responding to a global disaster
  • Providing medical care or access
  • Providing physical support or care (clothes, utilities, housing)

Emotions being preyed upon in charity scams:

  • Guilt associated with spending on yourself and others, while not supporting those in urgent need
  • The intense pain and suffering of children or other groups of people
  • The urgency and desperation of an individual or group of people, locally or globally

Employment Scams

Fraudsters present simple ways for the average person to make some quick money to support increased holiday spending. Once sufficiently interested in the opportunity, victims are asked to “verify their identity” – giving the fraudsters what they need to steal the victim’s identity.

Common examples include:

  • Reviewing products online
  • Work from home or mystery shopper
  • Completing simple digital tasks like data entry
  • Childcare or caregiver

Emotions being preyed upon in employment scams:

  • The desire to be able to buy more better gifts for loved ones
  • The desire to find an “easy fix” to earn more money
  • The desire to feel valuable and proud as a provider of gifts and support for your family and loved ones

Romance Scams

Fraudsters seek to develop digital relationships with those who are looking for human connection or companionship during the holidays via fake profiles and personas. Once the fraudster has been able to gains the victim’s trust, they exploit the emotional connection to acquire their funds or steal their identity.

Common examples include:

  • Needing funds for a personal emergency
  • Needing funds to support travel to visit the victim

Emotions being preyed upon in romance scams:

  • The desire for human connection and feeling understood by another person
  • The human desire to be wanted and seen as attractive by others

Product Scams

Fraudsters develop fake online websites to offer popular holiday gifts at a tremendous discount.

Common examples include:

  • The offering of popular holiday items that are otherwise out of stock
  • The sale of common goods at a significantly lower price than other marketplaces

Emotions being preyed upon in product scams:

  • The desire to be seen as a generous or thoughtful person
  • The desire to show that you are willing to go above and beyond to gift someone that “special” or scarce item that no one else could
  • The desire to save money as a means of reinforcing your own identity as a thrifty shopper or someone that is doing the right thing for your family

Lastly, stay safe with these best practices:

  • Enroll in Credit and Identity Theft Monitoring
  • Put a temporary lock on your credit profile: If you won’t be applying for credit in the near future, put a credit freeze on your profile at all three bureaus (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion)
    • Alternatively, monitor your credit reports monthly
    • Avoid sharing travel plans on social media
  • Remove your mail from your mailbox daily and collect deliveries in a timely manner
  • If traveling to see friends or family, have a trusted neighbor pick up your mail or place a mail hold with the USPS
  • Shred all unwanted documents
  • This includes credit card bills, insurance information, bank statements and other information that could be used by fraudsters to impersonate you
  • Enable multi-factor authentication every chance you get
  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi
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