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Holiday Season – An Opportune Time for Financial Scams

Holiday Season – An Opportune Time for Financial Scams
Shoran Devi
December 09
11:01 2017

It is that joyous time of the year when themere mention of jingle bells, turkey feasts and door-busting horde enlighten our mind.

Merchants and consumers are gearing up for the busy holiday shopping season.

Stores are advertising their products and people cue up to take advantage of the bargain prices. All in all, the atmosphere is frantically busy.

It is not just the shoppers who are busy, the crime and deception rates also exacerbate during this festive season.

Holiday fraud is seen in many modes, through online shopping scams to road-side ploys, criminals fully capitalise on unsuspecting shoppers.

Numerous lucrative incentives are being advertised to get people to buy the products but not all may be from legitimate sources.

Banks have multiple security measures in place to protect your personal and financial identities.

However, all care must be taken when sharing personal details online or to the third party. This is especially for those who engage in shopping online.

In this edition, I will seek to bring to your attention some of the common forms or financial frauds which occur during this time of the year and some safety tips to avoid getting defrauded.

 

Holiday travel scams

It is not uncommon to see an influx of travellers hitting the road or flying offshore to make their holiday a memorable one, but with increasing cost of travel, especially costly airfares, passengers are being easily targeted by a host of scams.

Cheap offers may appear very enticing, but may be too good to be true.

Not surprisingly, many of these scams are online. Such as, you may be offered a bundled travel package on a travel website.

It would seem perfect, except you cannot pay with a credit card.

They would normally require a bank or a wire transfer direct to a bank account. Do not fall for such alluring deals.

Call the holiday accommodation or airline service provider directly, instead of seeking help of a third party.

Research well on the travel agents or tour service providers and avoid making any pre-payments.

Social Media Scams

Social media undoubtedly has made connecting with your loved ones much easier and fun, but it has also opened up a whole new platform for fraudsters giving them a wider audience for their malicious intents. In the latest scams, the fraudsters are putting up fake contests inviting you to take part and win yourself a prize money.

In doing that, they would require you to provide them with your personal details such as physical address, contact details and bank account details or credit card details.

Please do not get misled by such claims. Avoid disclosing your personal details such as your location or vacation details on social media; as you may never know who may see that information and use it to your disadvantage.

 

Fake charity drives

It is a common practice for people to donate to charities and share in with the less fortunate ones during Christmas.

Fraudsters usually pretend to be from charitable organisations soliciting funds from public for reasons such as medical urgencies, organising Christmas events or for sending gifts for deprived children.

They often use names similar to an existing legitimate charity and have a very emotional appeal to get the reader’s attention. Please ensure that you verify the legitimacy of the charity you are donating to.

Avoid making any online money transfers to new charitable drives and do all your research on the subject before extending them yourhard earned funds.

 

Online shopping scams

Internet has made shopping much easier and convenient, giving you the ability to shop from the confines of your very house and from almost any corner of the world.

However, when shopping online, be very mindful of various bogus shopping sites. These sites will have the “too good to be true” type of claims.

It will give amazing discount alerts on everyday gift items and will usually inundate your screen with multiple pop-ups and advertisements.

By trusting these sites, you might buy products which will never get delivered to you and end up divulging your credit card information into the hands of swindlers.

To mitigate such risks, always ensure your connection is secure when transacting online.

A closed padlock icon located in your browser or at the bottom of your web page or the website address which reads as https:// rather than http:// indicates a secure connection. Only engage in transactions with reputable dealers with long standing history.

Do your research on the merchants before purchasing any goods from them.

Reputable and genuine dealers will never direct you into giving your personal information such as credit card pins and banks account numbers.

 

Hoax calls and messages

Fraudsters are taking a whole new approach to connect with us.

Swindlers are now even beginning to call people directly and many a times are successful indeceiving people to believe them.

You may receive text or instant messages claiming that you have won a lottery and that you need to contact them for further details. They would address you by your name and would know a few details about you.

They may also direct you into filling out some forms or to visit a bank branch.

Please do not disclose any such information to them.

The information you disclose may seem trivial but often leads to bigger scams. Valid lottery agencies would not ask you into filling out any such details.

 

Illusive email frauds

In the latest emerging trends, Fraudsters will send emails to you advertising their products and offering you “give-way” prices.

The content of their advertisement is definitely attractive and may tempt you into contacting them.

The only means to contact them would be either through cellular phones or through social networking sites as they would not have a fixed line and will hardly have a physical address.

They would often ask you to either send them money through money transfer agencies or directly credit their bank account. Once they receive the money, you would be surprised to learn that you no longer receive any emails or calls from them.

Please refrain from doing this. Do not send money to any traders without a thorough back ground check.

Genuine traders will not have any such demands.

Do all the necessary checks before trusting any email advertisements from any random vendors.

Fraud is accelerating at a startling rate, enabled by a potent combination of data compromises, identity theft, account takeover and friendly fraud.

It is imperative that both consumers and traders protect themselves during this eventful time of the year given this new landscape of persistent and systemic fraudulent activity.

So let us keep our guardsup and be very conscious of our actions whilst merrymaking.

 

Feedback:  maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

 

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