The holidays are a time of joy. Families gather to share laughter, food, gifts, and quality time with each other. Unfortunately, the holiday season is also one of the most joyous times of the year for fraudsters.
Identity theft and fraud always pick up around the holidays. The increased number of promotional emails and text messages sent by businesses, and people overall being in the giving spirit, create the perfect atmosphere for fraud to occur.
The best way to protect yourself is to understand and be able to identify the most popular types of fraud and scams easily.
Popular Types of Fraud
The rise of email marketing led to a type of fraud called “phishing.” Pronounced “fishing,” fraudsters create fake emails designed to fish for your personal information. As new forms of communication become popular, such as text messaging and social media, identity thieves adapt. Some popular types of fraud today come through:
- Phishing – When fraudsters use email in an attempt to commit identity theft.
- Smishing – The rise of SMS or text messaging is creating new opportunities for scammers.
- Vishing – Old school phone or voice scams are on the rise due to technology-enabled robocalls.
All of these types of fraud are usually after the same thing – your personal information. It is essential never to give out personal information, such as your name, account numbers, debit or credit card numbers, PINs, CVV codes, etc. It’s important to note that our credit union will NEVER contact you asking for this information.
If you receive a call, email, or text message you’re unsure about, hang up or delete the message. Then call the company that supposedly reached out to you. By speaking directly with the business, you can determine if the message or call was real or fake.
Ways to Protect Yourself
Emails: Emails remain one of the most popular types of communication for personal and business. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most accessible mediums to replicate by hackers. One of the easiest ways to protect yourself from fraudulent emails is to check the sender’s name.
While an email may say it’s from “Spotify,” and the email looks legit, you can often discover it is fake by simply checking the sender’s name and email address. For example, instead of something like firstname.lastname@example.org, it may be email@example.com or even trickier – firstname.lastname@example.org. The “bd” in the domain is a giveaway that the email is likely fake.
If you receive an email claiming you need to reset your account by typing in your account number and password, it’s always better to delete the email and contact the company directly. You can either log into your account from their website or call their customer support number.
Texts: Typically, the most common types of fraudulent texts involve you winning a contest or a notification of a billing error. In both instances, you can almost always guarantee it’s a dishonest attempt to gain personal information. Do not click on the links and instead delete the message. If you’re worried about a possible billing error, as the message states, log into your account (such as your utility account) from their website or app – not via the link on the text. Or call the company directly.
Phone Calls: It’s pretty easy to tell a scam through the increased number of automated robocalls today. And most major phone service providers are implementing programs that help identify spam or high-risk callers. However, it can seem more official when a live person contacts you. Never give out your personal information over the phone – no matter how convincing they may sound. Instead, hang up and call the company directly to resolve any problems.
We're Here to Help!
The holiday season is a time of joy filled with fun memories shared between friends and family. However, it’s also important not to let the fun distract you from fraudsters. Be extra vigilant in protecting yourself and your personal information.
As your credit union, protecting your account and personal information is our top priority. If you feel you may have been a victim of fraud or have questions about the safety of your account, we’re here to help. Please email us at email@example.com or give us a call at 202-479-2270.
What steps are you taking to protect your accounts this holiday season? Tell us in the comments!