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Fraud to Watch Out For When Holiday Shopping

Yong woman choosing and Affinity credit card to use for online shopping
Holiday Shopping Fraud Prevention Blog Affinity FCU
By: Bryan Watkinson
AVP Risk Operations

December 14, 2022

After a record setting Black Friday with 1.$9.12 billion spent in holiday shopping, Americans are proving that despite inflation, the gift giving will continue. As the holiday approaches, many shoppers are gravitating towards online shopping.

In fact, according to a Statista study, 2. 57% of holiday shopping has been done online in 2022. While the convenience of online shopping makes the holiday season less stressful for those that want to avoid crowded stores, there are risks to be aware of when it comes to fraud. Nearly 3. 75% of Americans experienced at least one type of scam during last year’s holiday shopping season, and the number of digital fraud attempts was 4. 127% greater during the holiday season than the rest of the year.

Although there are many different types of fraud, some of the most common during the holiday season can include credit card fraud, charity scams, and travel scams. Affinity is dedicated to making sure that their customers are well equipped to protect themselves in any of these scenarios.

Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud is a form of theft involving an unauthorized person taking another’s credit card information to charge purchases to their account. According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center’s 2021 report, credit card fraud accounted for 5. $173 million in losses. However, there are ways you can protect yourself and your credit card:

  • Never wire money directly to a seller when making a purchase. Additionally, ensure that all the websites you purchase from are safe and secure domains. Many scammers will create websites with very similar names to a popular store brand, usually off by one letter or symbol, so it is important to double-check that you are on the correct website for any online purchases.
  • Check your statement regularly for suspicious activity and if you see anything that looks off, call your bank right away and report it to 6. Member Solutions Hub at 800-325-0808.
  • Keep your credit cards stored in a safe place, like a secure wallet, and avoid leaving any paper trails of your card numbers. Also, don’t allow your computer to save your card numbers when making a purchase in case of an instance where your computer is hacked. 
  • Be wary of phone calls, texts and emails that are asking for your card numbers or telling you to click on a link. It is a good rule to never give your card numbers over the phone, even if someone is calling saying they are from your financial institution. Your actual financial institution will not require you to recite your card details or any full personal information over the phone, so if a caller is asking for that, it is likely a scam.
  • Avoid shopping on public Wi-Fi networks and instead, wait until you are on your secure home connection.

7.72% of shoppers say they will use credit cards to buy holiday gifts this year. The end goal for scammers is to trick shoppers into sharing their credit card details and personal information with them. Following the above protocols will help to protect you from potential credit card threats.

Charity Scams

During the biggest scamming season of the year, another method that fraudsters use is to mimic nonprofit websites, tricking you into thinking that it is a charity organization. It is best to work with charities that are well-established and that you can trust. There are various charity fraud scams to be aware of, such as emails, social media posts, crowdfunding platforms, and cold calls. Charitable donations increase drastically around the holidays, with 8. one-third of all donations given in December, and scammers try to take advantage of that. Almost 9.40% of people surveyed said they had received a pitch from fraudulent charities in 2022 so far. Always use caution when looking into causes that you are planning on donating to and the method that you are sending the donation to them.

Some solicitors use pressure tactics and may even offer to send a "runner" to pick up your money. An essential tip is that before giving your money to a charity, research them carefully. Check in with the 10.National Association of State Charity Officials to determine if the charity is registered in your state.

Travel Scams

Another form of fraud that is common around the holidays is surrounding traveling. Many people are looking for cheap airline tickets for the holiday season to save money and scammers can target travelers with prices ranging from fraudulent flight-booking websites to fake flight cancellation emails with a sudden price increase. Some scammers will send scam emails and texts offering promotions or deals on travel tickets or hotels. The typical travel scams include “free” vacations, robocalls about vacation deals, and international travel document scams.

About 11.$26 million was lost to travel, timeshare, and vacation rental fraud from January to March of 2021. Some of the signs to be aware of while booking for the holiday season include:

  • A cheap hotel or airline offer that seems too good to be true.
  • A hotel, airline, or travel website that has odd spelling or grammatical errors that could appear like it was created by a scammer in a foreign country. Also, be wary of websites that are not commonly known travel-brand names.
  • An email from an airline saying there was a price increase to your flight after you had already purchased the ticket.

Every year, thousands of people become victims of holiday scams. It is crucial to be vigilant and take precautions to prevent scammers from getting access to your hard-earned money, personal information, and your mood for the holiday season. When it comes down to it, it’s essential to do your research, be wary of deals that seem too good to be true and make charitable contributions directly rather than through an intermediary.

Remember that today’s scammers can be both creative and aggressive when it comes to ways they infiltrate the holiday shopping market, so be sure to make your list of tactics to watch for and check it twice to protect yourself as you shop for your loved ones this holiday season.

This information is for informational purposes only, is intended to provide general guidance, and does not constitute legal, tax, or financial advice. Each person’s circumstances are different and may not apply to the specific information provided. You should seek the advice of a financial professional, tax consultant, and/or legal counsel to discuss your specific needs before making any financial or other commitments regarding the matters related to your condition.

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