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Financial scams happen every day, but they often ramp up during the holidays. Scam artists know that during this season, people are often busy and less cautious. People also tend to be a little more generous. That's why it's important to make sure you and your loved ones are aware of these common holiday scams.

Charity scams

This scam pitch is disguised in requests for year-end, tax-deductible holiday donations. Sophisticated scammers may even scan the Internet or social media looking for a target’s personal connections to specific charities or community organizations.

Many prey on our "memory" of a situation that actually didn't happen. For example, a “pitch” may be tailored as: “When we spoke last year, you told me to call you back now...” Of course, there was never a previous conversation.

To protect yourself: Before you donate to a charity, call the charity directly at a number you look up (not one provided by the person calling you), and ask if they are aware of the solicitation.

Grandparent scams

The fraudster pretends to be a grandchild who has gotten into trouble and is asking for money to help avoid a jail sentence, come home from a foreign trip, get their car repaired – but plead with the grandparent to keep it confidential. The holiday twist is that the “grandchild” wants to be “home for the holidays.”

To protect yourself: If you receive a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild, call them back at a number you know and verify they called you for help.

Phishing scams

Phishing is the act of tricking consumers into revealing personal information that can then be used to steal a person's identity or open fake bank accounts. Scam artists "phish" by using phony email or social media posts such as: 

  • Fake UPS email notices that say you have a package and need to fill out an attached form 
  • Fake emails saying your bank account or debit card has been compromised and you need to provide personal information to verify your identity
  • Website or social media popups saying you have won a prize and need to provide information to claim it 
To protect yourself: Before clicking on an email link or downloading an attachment, ask yourself:

  • “Did I expect this email?”
  • "Did I request the transactions/service referenced?”
  • “Have I given my email address to this company?”
If your answer is no, contact the sender through a number or email you look up yourself to confirm the offer or request is legitimate.

Need more information on these topics and other security-related topics? Visit our online security center.

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