The year 2020 has seemed unending for many, many reasons, including the global coronavirus pandemic, the economic recession in the U.S., a fierce election season, and feelings of social isolation as we lockdown in an attempt to keep COVID-19 from spreading. Personally, I don’t know anyone who will not fiercely celebrate the closing of this year.
However, as we come close to the end of 2020, there is one important issue to keep in mind. ‘Tis the holiday season in the U.S., which usually means an increase of fraud.
Beware of Holiday Fraud
Given the increase of online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic, it stands to reason that there will be a strong online shopping season this holiday season. Additionally, in order to support social distancing and help limit the number of in-store customers, many merchants are offering online shipping with in-store pickup.
Here are some things to be aware of if you plan to shop online:
- Criminals and hackers will heavily target card-not-present shopping channels this year. With hastily created online shops as a result of the pandemic, criminals will be looking for any vulnerabilities in these newly created systems.
- Chargeback fraud is also likely to increase this year. According to Verifi, “Chargeback fraud, otherwise known as friendly fraud, occurs when a cardholder contacts the issuer (rather than the merchant) to dispute a legitimate charge in order to obtain a refund while still keeping the item(s). A cardholder might claim he or she never ordered the item, or that the item in question was never delivered. Whatever the claim, it is very difficult for an issuer to prove anything different than what the cardholder is reporting, and in order to keep the cardholder happy, the issuer will apply a chargeback.”
- Fraudsters will likely be offering too-good-to-be-true holiday offers. Unless an offer comes to you from a trusted source, it’s likely a scam.
How to Prevent Fraud
I’m sure that all of us can agree that we do not need to add dealing with a stolen identity to our To Do list. Here are some ways to help you prevent holiday fraud from happening to you.
- Don’t fall for online scams. If someone you don’t know or someone with a suspicious email address contacts you requesting money, it’s likely a scam.
- Don’t click on links asking you to update your information. If you have accounts with online retailers and you receive an email saying that your account needs updating, do not click on the link provided. It is likely that you will be connecting to a fraudster who will use your updated account information to cause harm. Instead, go directly to the retailer’s website or call customer service to update your information.
- If you receive a call from someone requesting an end-of-year contribution for a charity, never give your credit card information over the phone. Instead make your contribution on the charity’s website.
- Pay for holiday gifts and services using cash whenever possible.
- If online shopping, use unique, complex passwords to create customer accounts.
- Monitor your bank and credit account(s) online to look for any suspicious activity.
By taking some simple preventative measures, you can help to ensure that you will not fall victim to holiday fraudsters, and you can celebrate the end of 2020 with voracity!