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

Black and White Photo of Someone Holding a Cell Phone

Be wary of any caller who claims to represent a company or institution

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

Color Photo of Mailbox

A million dollar check in the mail? Not so fast, scammers

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!


See Also

Watch Out for the New Medical Alert Phone Scam
Watch Out for Bogus FedEx Shipping Scam This Holiday Season
5 Things That Are Actually Cheaper After the Christmas Holiday Sales

About The Author

Sean O'Connor is a writer and graduate from Loyola Marymount University. He is a self-described hoops fanatic who resides in Pasadena.

Related Posts

3 Responses

  1. Marti

    It’s not mymotherLOAD.com – it’s mymotherLODE.com. Try going to each one. mymotherload.com takes you to a black page with very little on it and no where to go when you get there. It also shows up in the browser line as ww2.mymotherload.com. The correct page with www.

    Take care, Marti

  2. Matt O'Connell

    When it comes to email phishing expeditions, most companies have a listing on their websites for their security departments to which you can send suspicious emails you receive. The fraudulent emails typically ask you to click on a link to what appears to be a legitimate website for the company being falsely represented. The email may be a request to reactivate your account, information about shipping a phantom purchase you never made, a need for more information about your credit card, etc. Look for misspellings in the suspicious email, grammatical mistakes, odd word choices for typical English usage, etc. Don’t be fooled by the use of what look to be legitimate company logos, addresses, or other contact information. Just go the the company’s legitimate website, find the security department page, and use the email addresses you find there to forward the suspicious email to them, asking if it’s legitimately from the company. Most times, it’s not. Here are a few email addresses I’ve been using pretty often this holiday season: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]. The companies I’ve contacted seem to take these scams seriously and will offer advice about what to do if you actually do find that you’ve inadvertently given away some identity information. Good luck.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.