5 tips to keep your holidays fraud-free

The holidays should be a time of giving, not getting scammed. This year the National Retail Federation expects consumers to spend roughly $720.89 billion during the holiday season, which includes a 15 percent increase in e-commerce sales. With all of this hustle and bustle, it is very easy to become a victim of fraud or get caught in a scam that could make the season not so merry. Here are five tips that will help you keep your holidays festive, not fraudulent.

1. Check your accounts often

You’ve been swiping credit cards, inserting chips, and typing in your card numbers left and right, and with that comes the possibility of your card information being stolen. This season, make sure to check your accounts and statements frequently and thoroughly. Contact your financial institution or card issuer immediately if you notice activity that you don’t recognize.

2. Protect yourself against “Porch Pirates”

Package theft, or “porch pirating”, is the latest type of scam activity to hit our front doors, especially during the holidays. To protect yourself, we recommend that you require a signature when having a package delivered and set up delivery alerts whenever possible. You may also consider having your packages held at the post office or shipped directly to work instead of home.

3. Avoid bogus charities

Charitable giving is in full swing during the holidays. Non-profit organizations often rely on year-end donations to meet their needs and plan for the following year. Unfortunately, scammers also use this time to prey on the emotions of unsuspecting victims. Avoid giving in to charities that solicit heavily or pressure you for money. If you are in the giving spirit this holiday, your safest bet is to research the charity of your choice and contact them directly.

4. If it’s free or really cheap, it’s usually a scam

You just got an email saying you’ve won a free trip to the Bahamas! Don’t start packing yet. Chances are, it’s a scam. Scam emails like these almost always require you to pay upfront with a wire or money transfer. You may also be asked to pay phony fees or taxes on the so-called “prize”. Our advice? If it seems too good to be true, it usually is. If you want to take a vacation or travel during the holidays, it’s best to plan it yourself.

5. E-cards loaded with a not-so jolly greeting

Identity thieves like to send out seasonal greeting cards that are loaded with viruses and other malware. Unfortunately, the greeting will usually appear to come from someone you know. But beware: if it looks shady, it probably is. Always be on the lookout for obvious misspellings, punctuation errors and strange URL addresses. If you don’t know who sent the e-card, we advise that you delete it immediately.

Telhio Credit Union is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or goes to school in Franklin, Fairfield, Delaware, Licking, Madison, Pickaway, Union, Hamilton, Warren, Butler and Preble counties. Learn more about Telhio by visiting telhio.org.

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