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For most merrymakers, the holidays are a season of giving, but for the Grinch-like fraudsters of the world, it’s a season of taking. They want your personal information.
Bank, credit card numbers, and social security numbers are the types of goodies on their lists. Once they get their grubby hands on any of this data, they can hack into your finances, ringing up charges on credit cards or opening cash advances and lines of credit in your name.
Fraudsters do all this and more by orchestrating elaborate schemes that trick you into handing over your information. Knowing what these scams look like can help you keep your information wrapped up as tight as a present.
1. Phishing Emails
According to the University of Michigan, phishing emails include frauds that trick someone into sharing information or doing something that might expose their data.
Unsuspecting consumers fall for these scams because fraudsters pretend to be recognizable and trusted sources — think your cell phone provider or the financial institution that holds your line of credit.
Under the guise of these trusted names, phishing scammers ask that you share information, click a link, or send a gift card.
If you apply for an online loan in Michigan through a legitimate financial institution, they will never ask you to share personal information or login credentials over an email, text, or messenger app.
You can still expect to receive genuine emails and texts from your financial institution regarding your MI line of credit. However, they will encourage you to login from their dedicated app or website, as they can guarantee security on both platforms.
To be extra vigilant, look at the full email address to ensure it matches the one listed on your financial institution’s website. Next, hover your mouse over any links to double-check it goes to the correct website.
2. Fake Charities
‘Tis the season of giving, with many generous Americans donating to local causes and national campaigns. Last year’s Giving Tuesday — the Tuesday following Thanksgiving weekend — raised $2.7 billion alone.
Crafty fraudsters plan on exploiting your big heart. Much like phishing scams, fake charities pretend to be a legitimate organization to collect money from unsuspecting philanthropists.
Many of the tips to prevent phishing with a line of credit also apply here. Always make sure you hover over any links and double-check the origin of any emails. You should also check to see if the charity is registered with the IRS, and review its rating on Charity Navigator.
3. Bogus Online Stores
In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, you can visit some unusual websites in search of presents. If you aren’t careful, you might find yourself at the checkout of a counterfeit site advertising to nab a once-in-a-lifetime sale.
Before you get this far, always research the retailer to make sure they’re legit. You can check this by typing something like this into a Google search: your retailer’s name + scam.
In a blink of an eye, this search will generate any possible scams associated with that name. You can also search for reviews left by previous customers to see how they feel about the service and products.
Doing your due diligence at this stage will save you from sharing your personal information with a fraudulent site.
Bottom Line: Be a Scrooge with Your Personal Info
Only ever share your personal information with a legitimate financial institution, charity, or store. These tips can save you a huge headache this holiday.