Although new scams are continually emerging, holiday fraud is a trend you can count on. Whether you are shopping for gifts online or making a charitable donation, it’s important to be aware of the potential for fraud across many channels.
Despite knowing scams come from all directions, many consumers aged 18 and older are wrong or unsure about safe shopping practices, according to the most recent “Holiday Shopping and Scams Survey of U.S. Consumers Age 18-Plus” by the AARP.
41% incorrectly believe (or are unsure) that ads for merchandise on social media are trustworthy. 63% incorrectly believe (or are unsure) that online retailers like Amazon and eBay will request your login information to provide customer support. And 53% incorrectly believe (or are unsure) that peer-to-peer payment apps like Cash App, Zelle or Venmo have the same consumer protections as your credit card. To get on the correct side of these numbers, there are several ways you can protect your finances from fraudsters:
- Identify Imposters: Fraudsters often disguise themselves as trusted figures such as government officials, family members or a company you do business with. Refuse requests for money or personal information that you didn’t expect or initiate. One popular scam involves receiving a text message or email that appears to be from a school or church official asking for monetary support in the form of gift cards. If you get a request like this, reach out to the person or organization directly — not by clicking a link in the suspicious message — to confirm it did not come from them.
- Conduct Research: Type the business name in question into a search engine with words like “complaint” or “scam.” Or search for a phrase that describes a similar situation to yours, such as, “IRS call.”
- Refuse Upfront Payments: Scammers may ask you to pay in advance for prizes or vacation packages. Chances are if you comply, they will run off with your money. Recently, checks from “Santa Claus” have been sent out to businesses. Once cashed, “Santa” requests for a portion of the money back, only for the victim to later find out the check is fraudulent. Lesson: Do not cash a check from an unknown source.
- Consider How You Pay: Most credit cards offer you fraud protection, but that is not the case for all payment methods. Wiring money is risky because it’s nearly impossible to reclaim money once it is sent. Honest businesses generally will not require you to use this payment method. If making a payment through a mobile payment app like Venmo or Zelle, ensure you are paying the right person or business, and mark the payment as a purchase to gain some — not full — protection.
- Double-Check: Before you pay for a gift online, verify the website is legitimate. Have you bought from them before? Do they have customer reviews? Does the website appear to be brand new? Remember to check for misspellings or wrong domains within a link (for example, an address that should end in ".gov" ends in “.com" instead).
- Talk to Someone: Before you pay a fee or reveal personal information, talk to someone you trust. Fraudsters want you to make quick decisions. The best reaction to a potential threat is to slow down, research, and consult a trusted family member or friend.
If you plan to travel this holiday season, be sure to take the same precautions when booking travel, accommodations and other events and entertainment.
An easy way to increase your security in-store or online is to download the Mobile Wallet app. This tool replaces your card information with a token so it is never exposed. Once you download the app and set up your payment information, you can simply hold your device up to the contactless symbol for safe in-store purchases.
Another security solution is the ability to control how, when and where your debit card is used. SecurLOCK Equip™ gives you full control to temporarily disable your card, restrict card usage to certain areas, block transactions occurring outside your area and receive alerts for card transactions.
As a reminder, if you contact Enterprise, we may request certain information to verify your identity. However, Enterprise will never ask for your password. Unless you initiate contact with us directly, we will never ask you to provide your personal information, such as your account number, Social Security number, PIN, Secure Access Code (SAC) or user ID, through email, U.S. mail, live or automated phone call, or text message.
If you receive any suspicious emails or phone calls claiming to be from Enterprise Bank & Trust and asking for your personal or account information, please do not respond and contact us immediately at (833) 896-2850. If you suspect or spot a scam, tell the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint.