During the holidays consumers are more giving and willing to open their wallets to spend on presents and donate to charity – something identity thieves are counting on. Thieves often prey on victims during the holidays through a variety of schemes to take their information and their money. Since the Grinch isn't the only one out to steal Christmas, consumers should protect themselves from the rise in scams this holiday season.
Here are five common scams to avoid during the holidays:
1. Santa Letter Scam
Although writing letters to Santa is one of the most innocent ways to celebrate the spirit of the season, identity thieves may use this opportunity to steal your information. The Santa letter scam uses a website claiming to write children a letter from Santa, but aims to steal personal information, according to the Better Business Bureau.
2. Malware-Infected Shopping Sites
Similar to the scam above, fraudulent shopping sites that may show up on search results could try to steal your financial information through malware, AARP warns. Once you click on a link on a fake shopping site, you may accidentally download malware that will allow cybercriminals to spy on your log in details and more.
3. Gift Card Fraud
With the holiday season, shoppers are likely to purchase preloaded cards as a simple gift. However, scammers could attempt to scan and copy the information of unloaded gift cards on display, according to USA Today. Then they wait until consumers add money and activate the card before thieves steal the money using the information scanned from the card or transfer the data onto a new card. While in stores, ask the cashier to scan the card to ensure it is the right value.
4. Email Phishing Schemes
Scammers often try to take advantage of the holiday season by pursuing consumer information using email phishing. You may get unsolicited emails from senders masked as well-known brands offering deals that are likely too good to be true. Avoid email phishing scams by not clicking on emails from addresses you don't recognize.
5. Fake Charities
Known as the season for giving, the days surrounding Christmas mean more charities are out asking for money. However, if you get a call or email from a charity requesting a donation, make sure that these organizations are legitimate. You can check to see whether these charities are real by going to www.guidestar.org, which rates charities and nonprofits, or by visiting the BBB's site.