Money Smarts Blog

Five Holiday Scams to Avoid

Nov 6, 2023 || By Stacey Jorgensen, Director of Risk and Compliance Services

Woman holding credit card and phone looking angery

The holiday season’s filled with giving, getting and goodwill. But criminals use this time of year to take advantage of people's generous spirits. The worst part? These scams are often carefully crafted and branded to look like they came from a legitimate retailer or other organization and for a legitimate purpose.

You don’t have to be a Grinch to protect yourself from fraudsters and scammers but do be skeptical of the unsolicited emails and text you receive this time of year (you also should be doing this year-round, frankly).

Five holiday scams to watch out for: 

Charity scams: Scammers prey on your generosity this time of year by pretending to fundraise for a nonprofit or charity. Be aware of organizations with copycat names or names similar to reputable organizations.

Prepaid and e-gift card scams: They're an easy way to give but also an easy way to take. The Federal Trade Commission says one in four people who report losing money to fraud say it happened when a scammer tricked them into giving the numbers on the back of a gift card. According to reports received by the FTC, scams demanding gift cards most often start with a phone call from someone impersonating a well-known business or government authority.

Reshipping scams: These scams occur all year long, but thieves capitalize on the shopping season. Fraudsters use stolen credit cards to buy items online. Instead of having the items shipped to the billing address, the fraudster sends them to what’s called a “reshipper.” At the “reshipper” location, the items are repackaged and usually sent overseas. There, they can often be sold at a high price on the black market.

Delivery scams: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) warns of delivery notification scam calls and texts. Text messages, calls or emails look like they’re from the USPS, FedEx, or UPS, and include a fake tracking link.

Misleading social media ads: Some fake social media ads will say their items are from a small business or offer luxury items for extremely cheap prices. Be careful when scrolling Facebook. 

Tips from the IHMVCU fraud team about protecting yourself this holiday season:

  • Don’t click any suspicious links or attachments in emails, on websites, or on social media
  • Be especially wary if a company asks you to update your password or account information
  • Check a website’s URL to make sure it’s legitimate and secure
  • Do not accept packages at your address from people or companies you don’t know
  • It’s free to sign up for USPS Informed Delivery where you can track your packages
  • Check out the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker
  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is

And don’t forget, you can set Card Controls on any IHMVCU debit or credit card. Monitor your purchases and protect yourself against fraud. Questions about Card Controls? Check out our FAQ page.

Stay vigilant this holiday season. Check your accounts often using online or mobile banking and call us immediately if you notice unauthorized transactions.

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