While many of us are distracted with all the activities the holiday season brings, fraudsters are out there thinking of new ways to steal your money! Every year, thousands of people become victims of holiday scams.
To avoid becoming a victim this holiday season, here are some common scams that fraudsters have been using to take advantage of you during this festive time of year.
Non-Delivery, Non-Payment, and Fake Listings
According to the FBI, the two most common holiday scams are non-delivery and non-payment scams. In a non-delivery scam, you buy—and pay for—items or services you found online at what looks like a legitimate business, but those items are never received. A version of this scam incudes auctions, where fraudsters trick unsuspecting consumers into bidding and paying for items that never arrive. In either scenario, the seller goes silent after they have received your payment.
A non-payment scam is similar, but it is where you are the seller. Once you ship the item you have “sold,” the payment is never received or it is returned by the financial institution for insufficient funds. You never get paid.
Also watch for the fake listing scam, where products and services are listed on a job or community board for extremely low prices. Scammers will often copy legitimate listings but replace the contact information with their own. Once payment is sent, the fraudster disappears without delivering what was promised. Remember—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Don’t be a victim!
When shopping online, know who you’re buying from or selling to. Check each website’s URL to make sure it’s legitimate and secure. If you’re purchasing from a company for the first time, do your research and check reviews. Be wary of sellers who post an auction or advertisement as if they reside in the U.S., then respond to questions by stating they are out of the country on business, family emergency, or similar reasons.
Follow these tips when paying for online purchases:
- Never wire money directly to a seller.
- Avoid paying for items with pre-paid gift cards unless you are certain the store where you are purchasing your items is legitimate.
- When shopping online, a credit card may offer more protection from non-delivery scams than a debit card. If you see a suspicious transaction, contact your credit card company immediately to dispute the charge.
- Remember to check your statements regularly.
Finally, monitor the shipping process! Always get tracking numbers for items you buy online so you can make sure they have been shipped and can follow the delivery process.
Small Business Scams
If you own or operate a small business, this time of year can be exciting—as well as exhausting—with the increase in sales. But, it’s important to remain vigilant to protect your business from fraud. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind:
- Lock up your business checks to keep them secure
- Have a process—who creates, signs, and reorders your checks?
- Have a different style check for each account
- Use electronic payments if available
- Review your accounts daily, and report any activity that seems suspicious right away
- Deposit checks on the go with Remote Deposit Capture
- Segregate transactions (i.e. have a separate operating, payroll, and merchant account)
- Train all employees consistently on how to identify fraud (email, phishing, etc.)
What to Do if You are a Victim
Please stay safe from fraudsters this holiday season. If you believe you became a victim of fraud, contact your financial institution immediately to see if you can stop or reverse payments. Report the scam to the FTC and the police. You can report the scam to the FTC on their website at www.IdentityTheft.gov or call them at (877) 438-4338.
It’s also a good idea to change your passwords on your devices and your financial accounts periodically.
Remember, Bellco will never ask for your personal information through email or text. If you suspect you have been a victim of fraud or are aware of fraudulent transactions on your Bellco account, please call our Fraud Dept. at 303-689-7548. If you have issues with identity fraud or are getting suspected fraudulent emails, please report the fraudulent activity using our online form.