While the Christmas season usually brings out the best in people – there are always those looking to take advantage of good people.
From travel scams, to fake bookings, to the legendary crooks trying to steal your identity – here are some of the most popular scams that pop up during the holiday season…
… and tips on how you can protect yourself from them.
You’ve Earned A Free Vacation!
Remember when mom would warn you that if something sounds too good to be true… it probably is?
Well, this old tidbit of wisdom continues to ring true.
While many scammers or shady companies trick people with a “free vacation” any time of year – these kinds of scams pick up speed around the holidays and often come disguised as “end of the year gifts” or “Christmas deals.”
Sometimes parts of the trip are “free” …
… but then you find a slew of taxes and hidden fees.
But more often than not, the trip isn’t even real – and end up you’ve ended up putting down a financial deposit to “hold your place” or giving out your personal information.
Always read the fine print before you book anything – and don’t trust a random text or email stating you’ve won a “free trip.”
These days, fraudulent websites often look like the real thing – especially to someone who doesn’t know what to look for.
Grandma may Google “discount vacation” only to click on a shady website that steals her personal information… and never even books her trip.
“Unscrupulous resellers draw consumers through search engine ads and send them, via links or posted phone numbers, to booking websites or call centers that appear to be affiliated with a hotel. The lookalike site will feature detailed descriptions of rooms and amenities; it might even have the hotel’s name in its URL.
But you are not actually dealing with the hotel. This can have consequences ranging from inconvenient (the reseller doesn’t transmit special requests such as a wheelchair-accessible room) to expensive (higher rates than the hotel actually charges or hidden fees tacked on to your bill) to potentially trip-ruining (you arrive and discover the booking was never made).”
And while you may be internet-savvy – make sure you warn the loved ones in your life to verify the website they’re using is legit before they book their trip.
And of course, crooks are always trying to steal your information.
You may get a text from your “bank” to reset your password… which then takes you to a fake website to “change your password.”
Of course, you do so to “guard your account” – not realizing you’ve been directed to a phishing website.
Another recent scam comes from scammers pretending to be PayPal – and you get an email claiming that your PayPal account has been hacked and you need to call a certain number to stop a fraudulent charge.
Except the phone number listed isn’t actually PayPal, just a scammer trying to steal your info so they can get your money.
PayPal warned about some of the other scams and what the fake emails look like
“You receive an email stating: “Your order #ZK04769 is confirmed for shipment tomorrow. Please click here to review the shipping details.” But you never placed an order, so you click on the link and login to see what it is. Only later do you realize that the link took you to a bogus website.
You receive an email stating: “We have noticed suspicious activity on your account. Please click here to review your recent transactions.” Once again, the link takes you to a page that looks correct but is really a bogus link.
“We would like to offer you a special $50 coupon for being such a good customer. This offer is limited to the first 100 people so click here immediately to claim your reward.” Instead of a reward, you are directed to a fake website where you might give up your account ID and password which the scammers can then use to spend from your account.”
It Could Happen To You!
The most important thing to remember is none of us are immune from falling victim to a scheme.
Scammers continue to make their stuff look more legit – so unless you are well-versed in the online world and know what to look for – you too could fall victim to the latest scheme.
Holiday scams (especially travel ones) are popular this time of year – but now that you’re aware of what to look for – hopefully you can keep yourself from being hacked!
(h/t Proud American Traveler)