Don’t fall victim to these 7 common holiday frauds

holiday fraud

During the holidays we look forward to being with family and friends and giving gifts to those we care about. The increased amount of spending during the holidays increases credit card fraud, scams, and identity theft. 

According to a report made by the Federal Trade Commission, in 2021 Georgia had the highest number of reported instances of fraud per capita, and the fifth highest number of reported identity theft per capita. Although these crimes occur year-round, they increase exponentially during the holidays due to the increase in online shopping.

If you’ve been accused of engaging in fraudulent schemes or identity theft this holiday season, contact the Georgia white-collar crimes defense attorneys with Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson, LLC today. Call our Atlanta office at (404) 891-9150 or our Savannah office at (912) 867-9140 to schedule your consultation.

Here’s a look at some of the top holiday fraud scams you should know so you can protect your information.

1. Fake charities

Some people are eager to take advantage of the charitable giving that increases over the holidays. Some perpetrators use online donation platforms and social media to solicit money by falsely claiming they’re in need. Others pose as someone collecting donations for a legitimate charity or one that’s completely made up.

Before making donations this holiday season, check the company name, their internet presence, and see if you can learn how the money will be spent.

Another way of avoiding this is to volunteer your time or donate goods such as food and clothing to local organizations in your area. 

Tip to make sure the charity is legitimate

Research the charity on one of these websites:

2. Fake websites

With the increase of stores sending emails to announce holiday sales and deals, enticing emails from fake companies announcing sales and inviting you to click a link to shop are more common.

Some scams are more advanced by visually mimicking solicitations from real stores, but the email address used to send them is fake. Malware can be embedded in links or photos which can be used to steal your credit card and other personal information from your computer.

It can be hard to determine if the email is real or fake. If you have any doubts, or to simply be more cautious, avoid clicking on any links or photos in the email. Instead, go directly to that store’s website through your browser and look for the deal you saw in your email.  

If you do click on a link within the email, look at the site to see if it seems legitimate. Some of the most common indicators of a fake site are fake password login pages, malicious pop-ups, and fake or suspicious customer service pop-ups. Never enter personal information other than your email address in a website pop-up form.

3. Shipping scams

Shipping scams have become more common as more businesses and carriers are using email and text messages to provide updates on your order and the shipment and delivery of your package. Regardless of their design, they’re all intended to steal your personal information and defraud you. We discuss a few of the most common types of shipping scams below.

Fake shipping notices

You might receive an email or a text message that appears to be from a shipping company asking you to click on a link to confirm your order, to see updates about your order, or because they had an unsuccessful attempted delivery and need more information. Although it might seem legitimate, it might be from a scammer. 

If you click on the link and it asks you for personal information such as your credit card number, don’t enter any information. The link might also hold malware that can steal your personal information from your phone or computer. 

It’s very hard to confirm the legitimacy of a text message. To ensure you’re protecting your information, check your order status directly from the site you purchased from using your order number or on the shipping carrier’s website using your tracking number.

Fake notice on your door

Not all holiday fraud is committed online. You might come home to an “attempted delivery” notice on your door, which can be legitimate. If you call the number or go to the website provided and your credit card information is requested to confirm your identity, don’t provide any information and disconnect the call.

4. Too-good deals and electronic payment apps 

It’s tempting to grab good deals off social media or websites or apps that allow people to sell new or used items, but be wary of those that seem “too good”. If you’re purchasing something from a social media site, don’t pay until you’ve seen the item and can do a mutual exchange of the item and payment. 

Be cautious of any seller who asks you to send money through an electronic payment app that doesn’t provide fraud protection or that doesn’t let you reverse the charge. If a deal seems too good to be true, assume that it is until you have proof. This mindset doesn’t mean you’re cynical, just that you’re realistic.

5. Social media scams

Common social media scams are completing surveys to get a free gift and advertisements offering a free item or sample if you pay for shipping. Avoid entering any personal information, especially your credit card information, anywhere on social media even if the ad seems like a good deal.

6. Fake gift cards scams

Free gift cards

The offer of a free gift card during a time when you’re spending more than normal can sound enticing to offset the money you’ve already spent. If you’re offered a “free” gift card in an email, pop-up ad, or text message but you’re asked to provide any personal or financial information, it’s likely a scam.

Don’t click on links that seem too good to be true. The damaging effects of identity theft and fraud can be very difficult to overcome, and in many cases can be felt for years.

Empty gift cards

If someone is offering to sell gift cards at a price that’s much lower than its value, it’s likely a scam. If you pay using cash or an app that doesn’t provide fraud protection, you might be unable to recover the money you spent.

Gift cards requiring extra fees

Sometimes thieves give away or sell worthless “gift cards” and ask you to pay a fee to activate it — a legitimate business wouldn’t do that. Asking you to pay money for a giveaway is an indication that you’re being scammed.

7. Fake security breach notifications

A common fraud scam is an email or text alert that one of your vendor accounts has been hacked. They’re often disguised as being sent from a reputable vendor such as Amazon, but there are sometimes clear indicators that it’s a scam:

  • The sender’s email address doesn’t match those of legitimate emails you’ve received after placing an order.
  • There are strange characters or spacing in the subject line or the text of the message itself.
  • You don’t have an account with the vendor that’s allegedly sending you the email.  

If you click on any links in the message such as one to “change your password” or “secure your account,” your personal information will be accessible to the scammer. If you are concerned that your account has been compromised, go directly to the vendor’s website and change your password.

Stay safe from holiday fraud

Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson, LLC wants your holidays to be happy and scam-free. 

For more tips on protecting your assets from fraudsters and scammers, contact our Georgia fraud lawyers today. You can contact our Atlanta office at (404) 891-9150 or our Savannah office at (912) 867-9140 to schedule a consultation.