Every year, countless individuals fall prey to holiday scams, resulting in the loss of earned funds and private data. Here are some ways you can protect yourself– and your wallet– as we head into the holidays.

  • Be Skeptical: Always approach unsolicited offers, emails, texts, or phone calls with skepticism, even if they seem to be from reputable sources. Scammers often use official-sounding language to trick you.
  • Verify Contacts: Before responding to any communication asking for personal or financial information, independently verify the sender's legitimacy. Contact the company or person directly using contact information from their official website or a trusted source, not the information provided in the suspicious message.
  • Beware of Urgency: Scammers often create a sense of urgency to pressure you into making quick decisions. Take your time to research and think before acting, especially if you're being asked to provide sensitive information or make a payment.
  • Check URLs: Hover over links in emails before clicking on them to see where they lead. Be cautious about clicking on links that don't match the official website's domain or that use slight variations in spelling.
  • Use Strong Passwords: Ensure that you use strong, unique passwords for different online accounts. Consider using a password manager to generate and store complex passwords securely.
  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Whenever possible, enable 2FA for your accounts. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification, such as a code sent to your phone, in addition to your password.Secure Wi-Fi Connections: Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for sensitive transactions or logging into important accounts. Public Wi-Fi networks can be less secure and more vulnerable to hackers.
  • Update Software: Keep your operating system, applications, and antivirus software up to date. Updates often include security patches that help protect against known vulnerabilities.
  • Educate Yourself: Stay informed about common scam tactics and the latest scams circulating during the holiday season. Knowledge is your best defense. Guard Personal Information: Be cautious about sharing personal or financial information online or over the phone. Legitimate organizations will not ask for sensitive information via email or text.
  • Monitor Financial Statements: Regularly review your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized transactions. If you notice anything suspicious, report it immediately.
  • Report Suspicious Activity: If you encounter a potential scam or phishing attempt, report it to the appropriate authorities. You can also report scams to organizations like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the U.S. or similar agencies in your country.
  • Don't Trust Caller ID: Scammers can manipulate caller ID information to make it look like they're calling from a legitimate organization. If you receive a call requesting sensitive information, hang up and call the organization directly using official contact information.
  • Be Cautious with Charitable Giving: During the holidays, many scammers exploit people's generosity. Verify the legitimacy of any charity before donating, and consider donating directly through their official website.

Remember, scammers are always coming up with new tactics, so it's important to stay vigilant and use common sense. If something seems too good to be true or feels suspicious, it's better to err on the side of caution.