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Holiday Shopping Scams Start Now

Look for Black Friday Deals While Avoiding Holiday Steals

Black Friday and Cyber Monday usher in the gift-giving time of good cheer, but the FBI warns that holiday scams are waiting to help separate you from your money before gifts are put under the tree.

Shoppers should keep in mind the two most prevalent of these holiday scams are non-delivery and non-payment crimes, the FBI warns. In a non-delivery scam, a buyer pays for goods or services they find online, but those items are never received. Conversely, a non-payment scam involves goods or services being shipped, but the seller is never paid.

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center’s (IC3) 2021 report, non-payment or non-delivery scams cost people more than $337 million. Credit card fraud accounted for another $173 million in losses. Scammers find it easy to take advantage of post-Thanksgiving weekend shoppers who may be more careless with their personal or financial information than usual. Take a look at the top six Black Friday scams and learn how to protect your identity and money.

Text or Email Phishing

With phishing, cyber crooks pretend to be reputable companies and usually ask you to click on a link or give them personal information. Common tactics include telling you that your credit card or account is locked or that your password needs to be changed.
Follow these steps to avoid falling prey to phishing:

  • Check the email sender’s address.
  • If you believe that the message is legitimate, always go directly to the company site rather than clicking through the text or email.
  • Use two-factor authentication whenever you can.
  • Never give your password to anyone.

Credit Card Skimming

Credit card skimming used to be limited only to physical credit card scanners at stores or ATMs. However, today, fraudsters can skim complete credit card numbers from digital sites as well. While it can be difficult to tell if the site you are on is safe, you may notice that a site looks just a little different than usual.

Follow these tips to keep yourself as safe as possible when shopping online:

  • Pay with a credit card rather than a debit card.
  • Consider using a prepaid credit card.
  • Do not save your payment information on websites.
  • Only use personal Wi-Fi or data rather than public Wi-Fi to make online purchases.

Fake Charitable Giving Requests

Black Friday is also the time when many charities request donations to make their year-end budgets or to better help those who are suffering during this time of the year. Unfortunately, charity scams are also a popular option for fraudsters to use. They may target you with texts, emails, telephone calls or even social media posts from fake accounts.

Check out the following ways to stay safe when trying to help the less fortunate:

  • Only give to reputable charities that you have heard of or have researched.
  • Give directly on the charity’s website rather than clicking through a link.
  • Only use checks or credit cards for charitable giving. Never use gift cards or wire transfers.
  • Look for website addresses that end in .org for nearly all charities.

Online Secret Sister Exchanges

While the Secret Santa gift exchange has long been a fun way to give gifts to coworkers, the online Secret Sister gift exchange is not nearly as safe, according to the Better Business Bureau. In fact, it is nothing more than a pyramid scheme designed to get $10 or $20 of your money with a promise of gifts worth much more than that in exchange. While this small amount of money might not seem to be much of a problem, the scammers will get some of your personal information, including your name and mailing address as well.

Fake Order and Delivery Emails

Email seems to be one of the easiest communication methods for fraudsters to use, especially when it comes to shopping online. Most companies will send you emails confirming your order, giving you tracking information, and letting you know when an order has arrived. However, scammers also make use of these same tools to tell you that something has gone wrong with your order. You should go to the actual website from that you ordered to check for potential problems rather than clicking through links in the email. Many times, this is just a fraudulent way to get your password or credit card information.

Fake Websites and Apps

Even well-protected websites can be hacked so it is important to look for signs of a fake or hacked site. Although large retailers may be clued in quickly to hacked sites, smaller businesses may not. Check every shopping site you use this Black Friday and Cyber Monday carefully.

HTTPS helps ensures the connection between your device (phone, tablet or laptop for example) and the website is secure. A Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is a means for your data to be sent to the website without fear of man-in-the-middle attacks. When HTTPS/SSL is not present, cyber criminals have methods of intercepting data before it reaches the target website or you. Even check HTTPS Websites carefully by clicking on the padlock icon and checking the Subject field under the Certificate. The FBI warns seeing the lock icon does not mean the website you are visiting is safe so be cautious and take additional steps if needed:

  • Check for sloppy grammar and spelling errors on websites.
  • Ensure the site accepts major credit cards rather than only crypto currencies, third-party money transfer services, or gift cards.
  • Turn on a website protection like Google Safe Browsing.

If you have more questions about how to keep your La Cap accounts safe, reach out to our friendly customer service team. You can also check out our Fraud Prevention Resources to set up travel or fraud alerts and to learn more about protecting your personal and financial information.


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