Stay Jolly, Warm, and Scam-Free

Published December 15th, 2022 
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Written by: The Zoe Team

Did you know that 75% of U.S. shoppers have experienced or been targeted by holiday hoaxes? Unfortunately, wealthy professionals are scammers’ favorite targets.

Ah, the holiday season: a time for festivities, warm laughs with loved ones, and lots of shopping. Did you also know that 75% of U.S. shoppers have experienced or been targeted by holiday hoaxes? As joyful as this season may be, falling for the wrong deal can turn joy into tremendous frustration and even money loss. 

Unfortunately, wealthy professionals are scammers’ favorite targets. Protect yourself and your money by learning about the most common scams, how to spot them, and steer clear of getting swindled during the most wonderful time of the year. 

Why Technology Facilitates Sophisticated Scamming

There’s a reason why cybersecurity and fraud protection has intensified in recent years. As technology becomes more advanced, it opens a door for scammers to expand their areas of creativity and detail. A couple of years ago, you might have gotten an email from a secret prince asking for large amount of money. The unknown sender and questionable request most likely raised an immediate red flag. But with the evolution of technology, scammers now have a lot of information about you.

They can imitate calls from your job, the bank, a relative, or even the government. As scammers become more experienced, they get harder to spot. It’s important to keep an eye out for deals that seem too good to be true or calls that request information you shouldn’t give over the phone. 

Most Common Holiday Scams & How to Spot Them

1. Charity Fraud

Sadly, scammers are sometimes looking to monetize on the goodwill of others. They might ask you to donate to a charity that doesn’t exist or even pretend they work for a well-known charity. Before you open your heart or wallet to someone in need, take the right steps to ensure your money ends up in the right hands. 

Common red flags include requests of payment in cash or gift cards, messages thanking you for a donation you never made, or someone rushing you to make your donation. 

2. Gift Card Scams

We all know gift cards are an easy way out when in doubt about what to get as a gift. They’re actually a great gift! But they’re also a common hoax during the holidays. Scammers might sell expired or used gift cards for large amounts. The real bummer here is for the person who has to receive a fake gift card! 

To stay in the safe zone, only purchase gift cards via reputable retailers, avoid gift cards “at a deal” in random marketplaces you don’t recognize, always check for the activation code on the back to make sure it hasn’t been used, and make sure to think twice before paying for an “activation fee” requested over the phone. 

3. Phishing Emails

Bogus gift cards and phishing emails are common scams this season. Advertising, work, free gifts. These emails might come in any form. Just make sure not to click on any link until you’ve verified the email is coming from a sender you know is real. Be careful if anyone asks you for personal or financial information via email! Call the “sender” of the email and anyone else that could be a potential target.

4. Online Shopping Scams

Think you found the perfect holiday gift from a random website with an extra extra discount? Check it twice. You might be on the hunt for too many gifts this season, so limited-time offers and extremely good deals might be tempting. This could even come in the form of an ad or a lookalike of a store you commonly shop in. Do your research before you give any information on websites you don’t recognize! To be safe, shop with reputable retailers with secure websites. 

5. Missed Delivery Notifications

If you’re an online shopper, you might be waiting for multiple packages this month. Beware of “missed delivery” texts that take you to a website. Scammers might create lookalike websites from shipment companies, requesting personal information, credit card numbers, or even delivery payment. 

To avoid this, make sure to track all of your packages through the delivery company’s official website and the company tracking email you get with your order. If you believe your delivery is indeed delayed, don’t click on any text links. Call the company’s customer service directly to be safe! 

6. Holiday Travel Deals

These months are known to have high fares when it comes to travel. It’s also a good time to book tickets for any trips you have planned throughout the year and find good prices. A common scam might include a fake flight cancellation email or a request for extra payment for rebooking. If you see an offer from an online seller with significant discounts, make sure the offer is directly with the airline or through reputable third-party sellers that you’re familiar with. If you receive emails about your upcoming travel, reach out to the airline to ensure any rebooking is done directly and verify that the message is real.  

Stay Jolly, Warm, and Scam-Free 

During such a joyful season, getting tricked might seem scary, but it doesn’t need to be if you know you’re following a few basic security tips. Being aware of the most common scams and looking out for them is one of the best ways to ensure your money is safe from holiday scammers, and you’re able to enjoy the holiday season. 

If you suspect you might be getting tricked, take the safe path and double-check. Being cautious will give you peace of mind to spend this time with your loved ones! 

Disclosure: This blog is not investment advice and should not be relied on for such advice or as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting, tax, legal or financial advisors. The observations of industry trends should not be read as recommendations for stocks or sectors.

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