Stay financially secure this holiday season!
The National Retail Federation predicts that holiday spending in 2023 will reach record levels during November and December, growing 3% to 4% over last year to between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion. With all these transactions taking place, scammers are sure to find a way to get a piece of the pie.
At Clearview, we understand that the need for financial security doesn’t stop when you’re trying to celebrate the holidays. In this article, we’ll explore some common holiday scams and provide a few tips to help you stay safe and secure.
Phishing texts and emails
One of the best strategies to protect your financial security is to stay cautious of all communications that seem too good to be true or that show up out of the blue. It’s always best to be safe rather than sorry. If that email or text message is looking phishy, do not interact with it. Some common signs and red flags to look for when it comes to phishing scams can include:
- Glaring spelling, grammar, or formatting issues in the message
- A suspicious link which may take you to a fake website or infect your device with malware
- An unsolicited message or one that was not requested by you
As a reminder, Clearview will never call, email, or text you to ask for your digital banking credentials, passwords, debit/credit card information, or your account information.
Another way to protect your financial security is to stay wary of using public Wi-Fi when accessing your banking accounts or paying a bill. Avoid networks that don’t require a password to join or those with a vague name or misspellings as they can compromise your financial security. Instead, aim to use a virtual private network (VPN), which encrypts your personal data from hackers who want to steal it.
It’s also vital to stay safe while using the ATM. Skimming, which is one of the most common types of ATM scams, is when a thief uses a small device to steal your card information during an otherwise normal transaction. When a card is swiped through the skimmer, the device captures the card number and PIN. Thieves are then able to use the stolen data to make fraudulent charges with a counterfeit card or online.
Holiday scams with gift cards
Gift cards should only be used as presents for your friends and family. If someone is requesting payment in this format, this should be cause for pause. Gift cards are hard to trace and are easily accessible to buy, making them a scammer’s preferred payment method.
Holiday scams with payment apps
Apps like Zelle® are certainly a fast and easy way to send and request money from friends and family you know and trust. Unfortunately, scammers can target Zelle® users by offering a promised product or service, requesting money from the user, and never following through with the agreed upon deal. The biggest tip to avoiding this type of holiday scam is to only send money to those you know and trust. Keep in mind that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Artificial intelligence (AI) generated scams
The next generation of phone scams are here and more sophisticated than ever thanks to artificial intelligence (AI). Defrauders can develop something called a “deepfake” in which they download and strip audio clips online, usually found on your social media accounts, and reupload them to AI-specialized websites. This generates a new clip that’s very convincing (because it sounds just like you) and then gets sent to some of your family and friends with fraudulent message asking for card information. As alarming as these scenarios can be, it’s best to take pause and stay calm. If you suspect that the voice on the other end of the line is not real, hang up and call your loved one directly for confirmation.
Financial security threats on social media
Ads on social media channels like Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok can look enticing in the moment, but be careful! Scammers can promote fraudulent or counterfeit items on their page and make it look very convincing. They’ll also try to trick you into completing fake surveys or participating in fake giveaways in exchange for your sensitive personal information. Make sure you’re following reputable and verified social media accounts to make sure you don’t fall victim to one of these holiday scams!
This holiday season, stay vigilant to protect your financial security. Remember to verify the legitimacy of emails or text messages you receive, be cautious of offers that are too-good-to-be-true, and prioritize secure payment methods. By staying informed, you can enjoy the holiday season without falling victim to scams.