The Best Way to Avoid Getting Tricked by Scammers this Holiday Season.
Being scammed can take the shine out of your holiday season or any season for that matter
I thought it would be valuable to you if I listed some strategies to keep your finances safer during the holidays and into 2020. With the help of the Bank of America, I have listed some areas for you to be aware of – forewarned is forearmed!
Also, if you are responsible for someone, such as an elderly relative or friend, I suggest you warn them about scams, giving them a copy of this blog may not be the best idea, I suggest you tell them about some scam scenarios that you think are relevant to them and to contact you before you do anything. As a general rule a scammer will want someone to act immediately, so “do nothing” can be a good strategy. AARP has a free helpline if you think you or loved one has been scammed – 877-908-3360.
Know the red flags – phishing, smishing, vishing
The most common types of scams will target you through fake emails (a technique known as phishing), text messages (SMSishing or smishing) voice calls (vishing), letters or even someone who shows up at your front door unexpectedly. No matter which technique the scammer uses, you may be:
Pressured to send money
Threatened with law enforcement action
Told to purchase gift cards and provide codes as a form of payment
Asked to cash a check for a stranger or send money via wire transfer or Zelle.
Asked to deposit a check that overpays for something you're selling, and then send the difference elsewhere
The best ways to avoid getting scammed
If you provide your information or send money to a scammer, there is often little the bank can do to help get your money back.
Don't send gift cards as payment or buy gift cards for someone you don’t know
Whether masquerading as IRS agents, tech-support personnel or the attorney for the grandchild who’s supposedly in jail, criminals pressure their targets to buy gift cards for iTunes, Google Play, Best Buy and other popular retailers — and ask them to provide the code numbers, or PINs, on the back of the cards so they can be redeemed.
Don't cash checks for strangers or return funds for an overpayment
If someone you don’t know wants to pay you by check and asks you to wire some of the money back or give them cash, beware! It could be a scam that could cost you thousands of dollars. When making a check deposit, remember that a bank may give you immediate access to the funds, but the check can still be returned unpaid.
Don't provide account or personal information via email or text
Remember, banks will never email or text you requesting you to call or respond with your account number, PIN or access code.
Never Trust Caller ID
Scammers may pose as government officials, law enforcement or even Bank employees to steal your personal information. Always validate a person’s organization by calling them back through an official phone number.
Don't give an unsolicited caller or solicitor your personal information or codes
Banks will never call you or visit your home asking you to verify your account numbers, password or access code. If you receive a call, text or email, or someone comes to your home asking for this information, don’t give it out. Consider installing an app to block robocalls on your phone.
Don't pay upfront for a promise
Scammers may ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance or a job. They may say you've won a prize, but first, you need to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take the money and disappear.
Don't click on unsolicited links or attachments sent via email or text
Scammers use email or text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information. These messages seem identical to official correspondence. Check it out first by calling a phone number you trust and talk with someone about the notification. Don't call the phone numbers mentioned in the questionable message.
Never give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer
Scammers may pose as an employee of a large telecommunications company or a technical support provider to tell you that your computer is experiencing technical problems. They will ask for remote access to solve the problem before demanding that you buy software or pay a fee to fix the computer.
Don't wire money without verifying instructions
Use caution when wiring funds to unknown people or businesses. Scammers posing as a government official, relative, closing agent or some other trusted source often modify wiring instructions to route your money to the wrong account.
Don't feel pressured to act immediately
Scammers typically demand immediate responses and payment. Sometimes they even threaten law enforcement or legal action. If you feel threatened or are asked not to provide details to others or your bank about the reason for the transaction, it could be a scam. Contact your bank immediately if you feel you may have been a victim of a scam.