By Samuetta Hill Drew
As we explore the many holiday text message scams, we will begin with the most common ones briefly listed last week. This week we will provide additional details on how they work and safety tips on how to outsmart these international thieves.
Here are some of the most common fraudulent text messages scammers use to target their victims during the holidays:
- social media ads that lead you to fake online stores. Fraudsters use ads on social media to try to get you to go to fake stores that steal your money, credit card details, or personal information. In the worst-case scenario, you can become the victim of identity theft. The text claims to be from a company you use but weren’t expecting to hear from. It is better to Google the real store and use their official website.
- fake delivery notification texts. I have received several of these from supposedly the United States Postal service or UPS saying I had a package that could not be delivered because of the wrong address. Scammers send these types of fake text messages claiming that a package you are waiting for has been delayed or that you need to pay a fee before it can be delivered. The text will give you a fake link to click on. Please do not click on the fake link. Do not allow this scam text to stay on your phone – delete immediately.
- fraudulent charities that steal your money. It is not uncommon during the holiday season that individuals have a benevolent spirit and wish to help others less fortunate especially if they are charities for children, the elderly, wounded veterans, unsheltered pets, etc. Con artists create fake charities or GoFundMe campaigns to trick you into sending money or sharing your personal information. Take the extra time and investigate the charity or GoFundMe before donating any money or providing your personal information.
- bogus deals on hard-to-find items or airline tickets. Everyone wants a good bargain in this era of inflation and higher costs, but what you do not want is someone stealing your money. Many schemes take advantage of popular holiday items or inflated travel costs to get you to buy fake tickets or items.
- fake surveys, giveaways, and other phishing emails impersonating well-known brands. Scammers send emails (as well as texts and phone calls) claiming to be from companies you know, such as Amazon or Walmart. These messages use social engineering tactics to steal your passwords, personal information, and financial details. Many times, the text claims are from a company you use but were not expecting to hear from.
Always be cautious if you receive a message showing one or more of these warning signs. While you may be curious to know who is sending you these messages, err on the side of Keeping an Eye on Safety by resisting the urge to engage with them to find out.