Tis the season to be jolly — if you can avoid the holiday scammers.
Scammers are taking it to the phones this holiday season, impersonating banks and other institutions to steal from innocent and unaware people. All it takes is a convincing phone call, letter, or even social media post to lure unsuspecting people into scammer hands.
So what can you do to protect yourself from this not-so-jolly holiday scam? Let’s take a look.
Don’t Tell the “Bank” Any Information They Should Already Know
Here’s a good rule-of-thumb: never give out information to anyone who calls you out of the blue. This includes banks and other institutions.
These companies already have your information and won’t call unexpectedly to “verify” your bank account number. This is something scammers do.
MyMotherLode.com, a Central California news website, is reporting an increase in this scam tactic during the holiday season.
Here’s what the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office has to say about the increase:
“We have had several calls from people over the past several days saying they got a call from their bank or a credit card company saying that their card has been deactivated and they need the card number to reactivate it,”
Of course, this deceptive scam intends to steal banking account information. It’s not new but it typically kicks into high gear during the holiday season.
Ameren Missouri customers are also reporting phone scams where intimidation tactics are used by the caller. Fox 2 reports that these scammers are targeting small businesses for “outstanding” power bills.
Here’s what Fox 2 and Ameren have to say:
“…they say if you do receive a call like this call their customer service department and never give out your credit card or debit number or checking account information to someone claiming that you are about to lose power.”
So what should you do when you receive this call? Hang up!
No company or institution calls and asks for your banking information. Call the customer service department to verify that there are no outstanding bills. This way you will know who you’re really talking to.
However, deceptive phone calls aren’t the only way scammers “reach out” to unsuspecting people this holiday season.
The Old Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes Scam Makes a Comeback
Fox 2 is also reporting a resurgence of the well-known Fake Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes, where scammers send out fake million dollar checks.
The letter contains a phone number and instructions to call the number to verify their winnings. When the recipient calls the number, they are asked to give out sensitive personal information like bank accounts or Social Security number.
This is a classic information phishing attempt. The real Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes never contacts winners over the phone or by letter. They will go to your home if you win.
The lesson to learn from these scams? Be wary of any calls or letters you receive. They may claim to be from a reputable company but you really can’t be certain until you contact the company they claim to represent and verify the information.
Never reveal your Social Security number, bank account number, or any other personal info to an unsolicited caller.
What Do You Think?
Have you been contacted by scammers this holiday season? What was the scam and how did you deal with the situation? Let us know in the comments section!