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Explore the latest happenings at Kirtland FCU and learn about important topics from around the financial world. Here’s your insight!
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Don’t Fall For These 7 Holiday Scams

Ashleigh, K-Staff

The holidays are always a hot season for criminals and fraudsters, and 2020 presents a uniquely rich opportunity for thieves with record numbers of online shoppers expected due to pandemic worries and closures. Here the top six scams lighting up holiday shoppers this year.

1. E-skimming

E-skimming happens with scammers exploit weak links on an e-commerce platform—where you’re completing your online purchases. In many cases, a victim can be re-directed to a malicious domain where the skimming code can capture the customer's information from the checkout page. The skimming code would capture information in real-time and send it to a remote server where the data is collected by the criminals behind the scene. Your credit card data can either be sold or used to make fraudulent purchases from that point going forward.

2. Social Media Scams

In the midst of a pandemic and especially around the holidays, social media offers an important opportunity to safely connect with each other as well as become another avenue for online shopping. But scammers have also flocked to social media. According to the FTC, Reports that people lost money to scams that started on social media more than tripled in the past year, with a sharp increase in the second quarter of 2020.

Reports about scams that started on social media have been increasing for years. In 2019, total reported losses to these frauds reached $134 million. But reported losses reached record highs, climbing to nearly $117 million in just the first six months of 2020. In that time, the reported scams that started on social media often related to online shopping, romance scams, and supposed economic relief or income opportunities.

Online shopping scams often involve the use of social media platforms to set up fake, online stores. By using social media to advertise the fake website; fraudsters take a victim’s payment, but the victim will never see the goods. Those ads you see as you scroll, personalized to your name or job title, are often fake sales.

Not all social media scams are spread by criminals, either. Popular posts by family and friends about the “Secret Sister” gift exchange are actually illegal pyramid schemes.


3. Porch Pirates

This may be one of the most pervasive holiday crimes, and it feels more personal than other digital crimes. These criminals were on your porch! They may follow a delivery truck or simply be taking advantage of an opportunity after spotting a package, but the result is the same—a stolen package off your porch.

4. Buy Online and Curbside Pickup

This is one of the newest avenues for ‘friendly fraud’, where a member may state they didn’t receive an item and want a refund. Curbside pick-up is also another option for fraudsters to intercept your purchase.

5. Shipment Update Scam

This one also saw a major boost in 2020 with the exponential increase in online shopping and deliveries due to the pandemic. This scam involves a text or e-mail claiming that a shipment is delayed unless action is taken immediately to correct the issue. That action involves a link that may install malware on the device or directs to a fake site in order to collect your personal information.

6. Donations and Fake Charities

It’s the season of giving, but not every plea for assistance is legitimate. 

7. Gift Card Scams

It’s a theme with thieves: requesting to be paid in gift cards for a fake service or product or even selling the victim a gift card that is worthless. Make sure you purchase gift cards only from reputable sellers and directly from the particular store if at all possible.

What you can do to protect yourself
A few good rules of thumb will reduce your risk of falling prey to one of these hot 2020 holiday scams.
  • Purchase gifts and gift cards only from reputable sites.
  • Go directly to the site yourself; don’t click links!
  • Keep track of your delivery days and keep an eye out so you can bring packages in quickly. Or, if available, choose to pick up packages curbside.
  • Avoid entering payment information directly if possible. Services such as PayPal allow you to complete purchases safely online without transmitted card information.
  • Sign up for Online and Mobile banking and keep a close eye on your accounts and transactions. Catching fraud early is key to limiting losses!
This holiday season, contactless forms of shopping will be more popular than ever, and criminals are not passing up the opportunity to cash in. Keep yourself safe and stay financially secure this holiday season.
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