What if your true love gave to you 12 scammers scamming instead of drummers drumming? Each year at this time your Better Business Bureau reminds consumers of some of criminal holiday schemes, in the form of our “12 Scams of Christmas.” Keep these in mind to avoid being victimized and having your holiday turned into a “Blue Christmas.” (Some of the scams on this list have been discussed in more detail in earlier BBB articles, and are included here because of their magnified appeal during the holidays.)
Fake delivery notices
The continuing rise in popularity of online shopping has given scammers a way to phish for your personal information. You may be a shopper watching for the safe arrival of your order to someone else. You may be happily anticipating the delivery of a gift to your own residence from someone. Whatever the case, by now consumers are familiar with the sort of shipping notifications that are emailed or texted to customers. Those messages contain vital information regarding the status of an order.
Scammers have learned how to fake the notifications. With logos and graphics that look legitimate, scammers are hoping you will quickly assume the notices are real. Some may claim a delivery person was unable to deliver your parcel. You are told to click on a link in order to “print your label” for picking up your parcel elsewhere, like at a post office or courier company’s site. Clicking on the link may result in activation of a virus that allows scammers to steal personal information from your device. User names, passwords and account numbers might be revealed to the scammer.
Be suspicious of any unexpected notice about a shipping issue. Do not click on links in such messages. Go instead to the website of the shipping company or the USPS in order to get any delivery information.
The USPS has reported a new twist on this scam in the form of a phone call. Thieves request a birthdate and Social Security number to confirm a package delivery. Never give that information out to someone you do not know.
Who doesn’t want to save some money whenever possible around the holidays? Scammers know this and they trot out the old fake coupon scheme this time of year. Offers may pop up while you’re online, may come as unsolicited messages or may be forwarded by unsuspecting friends and family. Always be suspicious. Keep these tips in mind:
• Check where the coupon came from. If it’s a third party requesting information from you, beware.
• Don’t fall for the “click right away” line. Deliberation and attention to fine print can keep you from signing up for unwanted charges and services.
• Contact the retailer, describe the coupon and see if they will honor it.
POS malware is malicious software that criminals use to steal your payment data from retail checkout systems. Sometimes this is done with an additional card reader attached to a store’s reader. But hackers can also do it by infiltrating databases of retailers, using a type of malware called a “memory scraper.” This acquires your card information by scouring the store’s digital memory, going back to the moment when your card’s information was briefly unencrypted as the store gathered it. Whichever method is used, the result to you is the same: your payment information is compromised and available to criminals.
Read your credit card statements thoroughly and look for unexpected charges that go along with a purchase you made. That may be a sign that POS malware was in use.
Keep your holidays scam-free by utilizing your BBB’s “12 Scams of Christmas” tips, continued next week. If you have questions or concerns about scamming attempts, contact your Better Business Bureau at (800) 856-2417, or visit our website at bbbinc.org.