Holiday Tips To Keep You Off The Scammers’ Victim List

For the sixth year in a row, the IRS and its Security Summit partners have dubbed the week after Thanksgiving National Tax Security Week. This is the season for tax scams to go into high gear as the holiday shopping season begins and leads into the upcoming tax season. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic providing shoppers a good reason to do their gift buying online, the scammers are focusing even more attentively on the Internet for their prey. And don’t be fooled into thinking that the criminals are just paying attention to your online shopping activity. They send emails and text messages designed to fool the unsuspecting into opening them and possibly providing sensitive information.

If you haven’t already been alerted to some of the tips the IRS and Security Summit partners have released, I’m posting them again here. They are tips most people wouldn’t think about which could lead to a very unhappy holiday season and beyond.

Please take these tips to heart and avoid becoming another scam victim. Go to the link at the end of this article to see all the tips the IRS and its Summit Partners have provided.

Tracking Packages? Avoid clicking track package links sent via e-mail or text message. Instead, log-into your account on the online shopping site and use your account information to track packages. It’s too easy for identity thieves to spoof legitimate sites and trick you into clicking a malicious link that won’t help you track your package, but will help them track your online activity (including credit card information, usernames, and passwords). Sometimes clicking the link installs ransomware on your computer. Then your time saver turns into a time (and money) sink as you struggle to regain access to your holiday photos and other important information.

Giving to charity? Do not click on e-mail or text message solicitations. Browse to your charity of choice and do your giving through their website. Or, consider going really old school and mailing them a check!

Is your checking account tied to your savings account? Many people do this to prevent overdrafts. However, you might want to disable this feature, even if only during the holiday scam season. Here’s why: Consider using a credit card instead of a debit card for online shopping and donations. Credit card companies provide protection against fraudulent transactions. Most card issuers will quickly shut down the account and replace your card while they investigate a bogus transaction. And the lag time between when the transaction posts and when you get your statement provides some time to address any issues that may arise. If you use a debit card, fraudsters can have your account(s) cleaned out before you have a chance to report the fraudulent transaction(s) and lock the account down. And if you don’t already monitor your bank accounts regularly, now is a good time to start. Checking account activity two or three times a week will help you identify potential problems before they escalate into major headaches.

Here’s wishing you and yours a healthy, happy, scam-free holiday season.
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