November 5, 2021Beware of Common Holiday Scams

While fraud can occur at any time of the year, unfortunately, it becomes more popular during the holidays. This could be due to the hustle and bustle of the season and the fact that more people are shopping, especially online.  

Here is a list of the most common holiday fraud schemes with tips on how to protect yourself.  

3 Common Holiday Fraud Methods & Scams 

Here are some of the most common holiday frauds and scams:  

  • Skimming is carried out by using electronic devices to secretly scan and store debit card and credit card PINs and numbers. This tactic is commonly used on fuel pumps at gas stations. 
  • SMiShing (SMS phishing) is where scammers attempt to get a hold of your personal information via cell phone SMS text messages. The texts seem to be from a trustworthy entity, like a financial institution. They usually ask for personal information like account numbers and passwords and often ask you to click a link.
  • Phishing is the act of sending emails, acting as reputable companies, to get people to reveal their personal information like credit card numbers and passwords.  

What to Do to Protect Your Identity from Holiday Scams 

Here are some tips that could help protect you from holiday scams: 

  1. Use Your Credit Card to Make Purchases Online

Don’t use a debit card for online purchases. Use your credit card instead. For most online purchases, credit cards provide you with extra purchasing protection. If you notice any unauthorized charges on your statements, you can dispute those charges. You’ll want to check with your credit card provider to learn about the type of protection you have since they can vary by the financial institution. The PEFCU Visa® Credit Card offers Visa® security features like Visa® Click to Pay, Visa® Account Updater, and Visa® Secure; plus you can manage your transactions and card usage with our PEFCU Cards app and Card Controls mobile banking feature.  

  1. Don’t Click on Email Links

Scammers often send out email messages that look like a well-known company, such as PayPal, pretending to let you know about problems with your account. If you enter your password and username, the scammers then save your information and transfer your money into their foreign accounts. Beware! These scams are common and look legitimate, but they’re not.  

A good rule of thumb is to not click on links in emails. Instead, if you receive a notice requiring action, visit the website directly. Log in to your account from the actual website to see if there are any notifications or actions needed. It’s always safer to visit the website directly versus clicking links in emails. This is also the perfect time to update your passwords on your financial accounts and any websites where your personal information is stored. 

  1. Research Charities Before Donating

The holiday season is a popular time to give to charities. But you should ensure any contributions you make actually go to the charity, not in a scammer’s hands. If somebody calls and asks you to donate to a certain charity, tell them you’d like to research the charity first. Don’t let anyone rush you to donate. Take the time you need to make sure your gift goes where it counts the most. 

Note: If a charity is asking you to donate via cryptocurrency, wire transfer, or gift cards, it’s most likely a scam.  

  1. Don’t Keep Checks in the Mailbox for Long

Unlocked mailboxes are easy targets for thieves, so don’t leave checks sitting in your unlocked mailbox. Take them to the post office, drop them in a locked mailbox, or hand them to the postal carrier. Also, setting up online bill pay to reduce how many checks you write may help you in the long run. It’s much more secure, organized, and fast. 

We’re Here to Help! 

Stay safe this holiday season. If you have questions about changing your password in online and mobile banking password, stop by any of our branch locations or give us a call at 1-800-226-6673. May you and your family have a happy holiday season. 

Each individual’s financial situation is unique, and readers are encouraged to contact PEFCU when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice. If such advice or a legal opinion is required, please consult with competent local counsel.   

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