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No Scrooges, Just Happy Holidays – Part 2

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Published on December 23, 2021
 

The best defense against holiday scams – hit delete.

Welcome to part two of our holiday blog. In part one, we shared a few tips to help keep you safe while using your debit and credit cards while shopping online. This week, we'll discuss a few of the new scams making the rounds and provide you with some reminders about the schemes that have been around for years.

As your credit union, we care about every aspect of your financial well-being. Our hope is that by sharing this information, you will have the knowledge you need to spot potential fraud before it causes you any financial harm. Relaying this information is just as important to us as helping you save money on a car loan or plan for retirement. It all results in you achieving the life you desire.

If you missed part one, click here.

We'll start with a few scenarios that are on the increase this time of year and wrap it up with tips from Kym, our Risk Management Specialist, who keeps a close eye on fraud and works diligently to help members who may have been victimized.

Where's my package?
Many of you will likely receive more packages on your doorstep at this time of year, and just as many will have your eyes on your phone or tablet looking for delivery updates. Scammers know this, and they want to take advantage of your anticipation.

If you get a link in an unsolicited text or email saying that your package was undeliverable or that you weren't home to sign for it, take a moment to consider your options before acting.

Here's an idea: call the store you ordered from and inquire about your package. Use a phone number you know to be safe and accurate, not the one in the email. Also, try to get the tracking numbers of your purchase as soon as it ships so you can follow its progress. That way, you'll know exactly where it is at all times.

A deal too good to be true

Everyone is looking for the perfect or hot gift this year. If you get an unexpected or unsolicited message telling you a particular store has the product you're looking for and it's on sale, but only if you act fast, take another moment to collect your thoughts and wonder, why? Most of the time, the email or text is fraudulent. They're hoping that you'll be so happy that you found the "perfect" gift that you'll click without thinking. Remember, if the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Amazon scams
Many of you are, no doubt, ordering from Amazon this holiday season. While we all love to see that Amazon package arrive on our doorsteps (complete with its little smile), there are several reports of Amazon scams that began earlier this summer that are still relevant today.

Amazon is the world's largest online retailer, which is likely why they are unwitting victims of these types of scams. They involve an email or phone call that appears to be from Amazon telling you that a purchase was made on your account, usually high dollar amount/one/item. They then state that if you didn't make the purchase to call the number provided so that the charge can be reversed. This is just an attempt to get you to click or call. Don't be fooled.

Amazon has provided some assistance for reporting suspicious emails, text, and phone calls.


The kindness of strangers
This time of year, more than any other, brings out the charitable spirit in everyone. You want to give and make a difference, and that is very admirable. Before you make your donation, make sure your charity of choice is real. Scammers like to use current events, such as COVID or natural disasters, to take advantage of your kind and giving nature. You can look up your charity on CharityNavigator.org or just do a website search before you donate to make sure your money is going to good place. 

Speaking of charities
While you're doing your holiday shopping, remember, if you link your Amazon account to Amazon Smile, and then choose the Community Choice Foundation as the charity you'd like to support. The Foundation will receive a portion of your purchase. The Foundation supports education and the greater Michigan economy by offering 25 scholarships each year to students and adults who pledge to use their education to make Michigan a better place to live and work. You can shop till you drop and donate to the Foundation at the same time. Now you're working smarter not harder.

A few tips from our expert
As promised, Kym, our Risk Management Specialist, has a few basic tips to help you recognize a scam.

Amazon (most businesses) will not call you for a refund

  • Be very cautious if any business calls you and says there is a refund waiting for you. It usually involves you having to give out personal information.

Do not give access to your computer to someone who reached out to you.

  • The key to this tip is someone who has reached out to you, and not you reaching out to them. The same holds true for a computer company that calls saying they can help your computer run faster. Just say, 'no thanks.'

Someone from another country should not be putting money into your bank account

  • This is an ongoing scam. Never allow someone access to your account, even if they say they're putting money into it. Also, do not agree to buy gift cards or wire money for anyone you don't know. These are the tools that money launderers use to avoid detection.


No one is going to pay more for an item you're selling.

  • If you run an internet business, or even if you just sell a few things here and there, be very careful of people who pay more for an item and then ask you for a refund. Again, this is a way to gain access to your account. Set up a safe digital payment account, like PayPal, and set strict guidelines for refunds.


Law Enforcement agencies do not call first

  • This scam is simply a way to scare you. They usually ask you to pay a fine or overdue taxes. Police or federal officers do not call people when they are on the way to make an arrest.


Your grandchild was not arrested in another country.

  • This scam targets grandparents, and unfortunately, it works far too often. Your grandchild has not been arrested in another country. Do not wire bail money anywhere.


Report internet scams:
www.IC3.gov
Scams and Safety — FBI
Scam Alerts | FTC Consumer Information

Report losses or attempts:
Internet Crime Complaint Center(IC3) | Home Page


Happy holidays everyone. Be smart. Be proactive. Don't let anyone or anything steal your holiday spirit.

 

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