Keep your finances safe while you shop during this holiday season. The NCUA Fraud Prevention Center educates consumers on how to recognize common scams and take action if you think you are a victim of fraud. It also provides useful tips for protecting your finances.
Criminals and scammers use many techniques to fool potential victims. NCUA has put together a list of tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of a holiday scam. Take a look at a few of the newest and most common scams you should watch for during the holiday season.
A new scam cropping up more and more recently is related to fake online retailers. The typical shopping scam starts with a bogus website, mobile app or social media ad. Some faux e-stores are invented from whole cloth, but many mimic trusted retailers, with familiar logos and slogans and a URL that’s easily mistaken for the real thing. They offer popular items at a fraction of the usual cost and promise perks like free shipping and overnight delivery, exploiting the premium online shoppers put on price and speed.
Some of these copycats do deliver merchandise — shoddy knockoffs worth less than even the “discount” price you mistook for a once-in-a-lifetime deal on, say, Tiffany watches or Timberland boots. More often, you’ll wait in vain for your purchase to arrive. Reports to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of undelivered orders quadrupled from 2015 to 2019, and no-shows reached record highs in the spring of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic fueled a spike in online shopping.
And your losses might not stop there. Scammers may seed phony sites, apps, or links in pop-up ads, and email coupons with malware that infects your device and harvests personal information for use in identity theft. You need not forgo the ease and endless selection of online shopping, but these precautions can help you make sure you get what you pay for. Learn how to spot the warning signs, and some Do's and Don'ts.