Unfortunately, there are a lot of criminals on the naughty list this year for attempting to swindle retirees. Educating yourself on common fraud tactics is the best way to protect yourself and your money. In doing so, you’ll learn what red flags to look out for to avoid holiday scams.
Familiarize Yourself With 5 Common Holiday Scams
1. “Have a Nice Stay!”
Going on a trip or finally making your way to see friends and family this year? You’re not alone – over half of Americans plan to travel this winter.1 Whether it’s been a while since you planned a trip or not, it’s wise to be cautious when booking travel plans online. According to the Better Business Bureau, consumers have lost $720,000 to travel scams in 2021 so far.2
Some things are too good to be true. If a rental offers amazing amenities but for half the price of other nearby options, this is a red flag. Scrutinize the listing to look for other clues, such as requests to wire money, and don’t let the lister hurry you into a decision to beat out other “interested vacationers.”
2. Embrace the Giving Season
If you are a retiree who wants to give this holiday season, it’s important to ensure your money or goods go to legitimate sources. Search for an organization's name on the Ohio Attorney General’s website. Results for a registered charity will show its name, employee identification number, and location. A listing in this data base is a sign the charity is legitimate.
Also, be on the lookout for impersonators. A criminal may use an email or social media page that’s spelled slightly different from an actual charity’s name. A quick spellcheck can help you avoid giving money to an untrustworthy source.
3. Use Public Wi-Fi Sparingly
Never use free or public wi-fi networks to access sensitive information or make purchases. Some wi-fi networks are designed to look genuine when they’re really a gateway to man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. A criminal will use this method to intercept your device’s communication to the servers of websites you visit. Through this, they can read and modify your data and messages. Pass on public wi-fi when at the airport, shopping centers, or other public space. Instead, get a secure hotspot for your device.
4. Track Packages Safely
During the 2020 holiday season, the United States Postal Service (USPS) delivered a whopping 3 billion parcels.3 With so many homeowners eagerly awaiting their packages, criminals think they have a good chance of successfully executing a “USPS Failed Delivery Notification” scam. You’ll receive an email or text message from a fake USPS contact that alleges they were unable to deliver a package. The message will prompt you to open a link for updated delivery, which will activate a virus on your device. This program can steal your personal information for future use. Login to the official USPS, FedEx, or UPS sites to safely check the status of any in-route packages.
5. Remain Cautious on Social Apps
The holiday season can be lonely for some seniors, and scammers like to take advantage of their desire for human connection. This is known as a “sweetheart scam.” If you connect with someone over social media, pay attention to how fast a relationship is developing. While love at first sight can happen, it’s unrealistic for someone to profess their love to you after a week of chatting over the internet. Also, pay attention to what the person asks for. If they ask you for money once, they’re likely to do it again. You can learn more about the signs of a sweetheart scam here.
Keep the season merry, bright, and scam-free by keeping up to date on the latest fraud tactics. General Electric Credit Union (GECU) can help you stay on top of fraudulent account activity and identity theft with the following features:
- Online Banking and our mobile app. Online Banking and our mobile app give you 24/7/365 access to your transaction history. You’ll see cleared and pending transactions in real-time, helping you spot suspicious activity faster.
- Debit Card Controls. Instantly turn off/on restrictions for international purchases, merchant types, and more! Learn more about this powerful feature with our informative infographic.
- ID Navigator Powered by NortonLifeLock™. All GECU credit cards come armed with ID Navigator Powered by NortonLifeLock. This tool monitors the dark web for your information, alerts you to data breaches, and assists you in the event of a stolen wallet. Verify your eligibility online.
- Don’t wait for your statements to arrive via the mail. eStatements, available through secure Online Banking and the GECU mobile app, limits the number of physical documents with your banking or personal information on them. Pitching these without shredding poses a security risk.
- 5 Security Tips for Holiday Online Shopping
- 6 Ways to Maintain Control Over Your Debit Card
- A Retiree’s Guide to Donating During the Pandemic
- Steer Clear of Elder Financial Abuse
1Trip Advisor NYC, Paris, London Reign Supreme: Travelers Finally Returning to Iconic Cities This Winter
2CBS BBB Alert: Beware Of Increase In Travel Scams During The Holidays
3Digital Commerce 360 UPS ranks No. 1 in on-time deliveries during the holiday season