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Holiday Fraud

Before swiping your credit card this season, watch out for these telltale signs of holiday fraud 

Watch Out For These Three Holiday Fraud Threats

The holiday shopping season is here, which means more spending and opportunities for fraudsters to take advantage. To keep you informed about the most common seasonal schemes, we've put together a list of the top-three holiday fraud threats to lookout for so you can avoid being a target.

It's no coincidence that the busiest season for shopping coincides with the highest rate of fraud around the world. Every day, scammers target consumers with an array of legitimate sounding offers, but during the holidays, fraudsters ramp up their efforts to trick and defraud consumers.

Here are the top three fraud threats coming this holiday season:

Fake Retail Websites

Do you see a deal that sounds too good to be true? That might be because it is. Fake retail websites are created by criminals to look like real merchants, but actually leads to a fraudster-held account. These websites often emulate well-known brands and retailers. Fake retail websites have become especially popular on social media, where posts and accounts look legitimate but are not.

What to Watch Out For:
  • The URL or website text contains misspellings
  • The URL ends in a uncommon suffix (i.e. it's not a .com, .org, .gov, .net, .edu, or .tv)
  • The IP address is not U.S. based
  • The URL isn't secure and doesn't start with HTTPS
  • Generally speaking, if the website looks off, trust your gut

Mystery Shopping

Everyone is looking to pick up a little extra cash this time of year. Mystery shopping or secret shopping scams take advantage of that desire by luring victims into job opportunities where they 'test' products and services but
are first required to pay the employer for a fee or license. In reality, the job doesn't actually exist and the victim is out any investment.

What to Watch Out For:
  • Job opportunities that require you to pay the employer before starting employment
  • Wiring money to a potential employer for start up costs and fees
  • Depositing a check into your bank account on behalf of a potential employer, especially if they ask you to send some of the funds back by other means

Charity Scams

Scammers are always finding new lows to exploit. Charity scams take advantage of our generosity and good nature during the holidays. In this scam, fraudsters pose as a legitimate charitable organization and keep donations before they're discovered.

What to Watch Out For:
  • You receive a high-pressure pitch by phone, email or in-person
  • Donation can only be made with cash, money wire, peer-to-peer payment app, or gift card donation
  • Donations are requested by a third party, not directly by the accredited charity, and they refuse to provide details how the donation will be used

Do you believe you've become a victim of identity theft?

If you think you have become a victim of holiday fraud, you should notify your financial institution(s) as soon as possible. To contact us, send a secure message through Mobile and Online banking or call our Member Contact Center at 1.800.621.0287. We may recommend you reset your Mobile and Online banking password and issue you a new credit or debit card if they were exposed.
Check your credit report and keep an eye for any discrepancies. Good news! Members get FREE instant access to their credit score and credit report in Mobile and Online Banking. Better yet, using the credit monitoring tool won’t impact your score which is updated daily. Simply log into Mobile or Online Banking and select 'Credit Score and Report' in the Track & Plan menu to sign up!

Victims of identity theft should also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at or by calling 877-438-4338 or TDD (202) 326-2502.

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*This article content and infographic was compiled by Advanced Fraud Solutions, the leader in payments fraud detection. Source: 

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