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Avoiding Holiday Scams

Avoiding Holiday Scams

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Cyber criminals seem to enjoy the holidays way too much as they find creative ways to trick people or run scams to steal their money. In the United States, hundreds of thousands of people fall victim to cybercrime each year. Criminals may use phishing, vishing, smishing or other scams to trick people into giving up their login credentials or stealing their credit or debit card information. It's a national threat to consumers and their hard-earned dollars. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation 2021 IC3 Internet Crime Report, the center received more than 847,000 complaints with losses estimated at $6.9 Billion due to scams and cybercrime!

The IC3 Internet Crime Report listed the top 5 reported Internet crimes as:

  • Extortion
  • Identity Theft
  • Personal Data Breach
  • Non-Payment / Non-Delivery
  • Phishing/Vishing/Smishing/Pharming (malicious software)

Of these five categories, "Phishing/Vishing/Smishing/Pharming" related crimes represent the largest number of reported complaints at more than 323,000 cases. Clearly this type of attack is a common issue in which cybercriminals attempt to gain access to individual computers, capture credentials, transmit malware or gather sensitive information.

What You Should Know

This season, you should be aware that cybercrime is on the rise and Internet-related exploits pose the highest risk to consumers. Cybercriminals use scam phone calls or Internet attacks since it allows the cybercriminal to attack hundreds or thousands of people via computer networks.

Our credit union has an extensive Fraud Prevention section on our website to help you learn of the many types of threats you may encounter during the holiday season, and the whole year through.

Excellent resources are also available via U.S. Government websites that provide a wealth of information on cybercrimes, scams and threats particularly targeting the holiday season. Cybercriminals use a variety of tricks to deceive and steal sensitive information including personally identifiable information (PII), financial data (credit or debit card information), login credentials, as well as gift card information and the Personal Identification Number (PIN). Be aware, prepared and help stop cybercriminals this holiday season.

What You Can Do

What actions can you take to help protect yourself or a family member from becoming a victim of cybercrime? Be on the lookout for these cybercrime tactics:

  • Be aware of phishing emails that focus on holiday or "giving" themes that urge you to take immediate action to prevent some type of issue or incident.
  • Be alert for vishing (telephone), unwanted phone calls, that try to prompt you into providing sensitive information, accessing your computer, or taking some immediate action related to PII or financial information.
  • SMS Text message, smishing, that come from an unexpected source or that asks you to click on a link related to a suspicious issue.
  • Always enter specific URL's when shopping online and avoid clicking on links in emails that purport to be from a legitimate business. When in doubt, always type the URL into a new browser search and go to the merchant or service website directly.
  • Gift Card scams seem to exist year-round and not just during the holiday season. Be aware of phone calls or texts that request gift card information or PIN (including one-time PIN).
  • Always be suspicious of any phone calls, texts or emails that offer a good or service at is "too good to believe" deal - it's very likely a scam.
  • Scroll down for Related References to increase awareness of cybercrime or to report a cyber incident. By reporting cyber incidents or attacks, the information provided will help the IC3 to analyze and share information on the attacker's tactics and methods.

Education and awareness are the primary ways you can protect yourself to ever-increasing cybercrime threats. The holiday season provides a good opportunity for cybercriminals to create messages that appeal to the spirit of the season. Always be alert.

Related Resources
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) - Holiday Scams
Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) - CISA Reminds Online Shoppers to Stay Vigilant to Cyber Threats this Holiday Season
Federal Trade Commission - 'Tis the season to spot and avoid gift card scams
Federal Bureau of Investigation - Internet Crime Report 2021

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