The merriest time of year is here — and buying gifts is on most everyone’s mind! Before you get your shopping on, we’d like to make you aware of the latest holiday scams that are out there, so you can avoid them (and stay as joyful as possible). We know it’s not the jolliest of subjects, but we believe it’s important to do what we can to keep those Naughty List scammer folks far, far away from U and your account!
While online shopping is a convenient way to make purchases for you and yours, it may also contain some threats that are aimed to steal your financial information. The first way to avoid fraud is to know who you’re buying from. If you’re shopping from a new retailer, do a little Google search on them, and look for reviews! Nowadays, it’s easy to sell items online, which means scammers can to attempt to steal your information while posing as a retailer. They’ll even advertise on social media or send out emails with “amazing” deals on popular items. Don’t click on any suspicious links or attachments in emails, on websites, or on social media. Phishing scams and similar crimes try to get you to click on links and enter personal information like your name, password, and bank account number. If you come across a site that requests this information, stop and do some research before proceeding.
UMe Pro Tip: Remember, an online merchant should never, ever, ask you for your online banking login information when you are making a legitimate purchase.
Payment methods are another way you can get scammed. It’s important to be mindful of how you pay for items this holiday season. A major red flag should be raised if an unknown merchant asks for a bank wire, gift card, pre-paid debit card, or payment through third party apps like Zelle®, CashApp or Venmo as payments. Paying an unknown merchant or person with these methods is not a good idea, as the payments are not easily returned in case something goes wrong. Instead, when you’re making a purchase from someone new, it’s best to use a credit card (*cough cough* like our awesome UMe Visa® Credit Card) and regularly monitor your account, just in case. Sketchy merchants will often list items at extremely low prices to entice you to purchase, so remember — if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
UMe Pro Tip: Zelle® is a GREAT way to send money to someone you know and trust. But, avoid using it to pay for goods from a stranger.
It’s also important to mention that, this time of year, many delivery packages are being stolen, right from peoples’ doorstep! When you order something online, it’s a good idea to track your package and find out when it’s scheduled to be delivered. That way, you can retrieve your package as soon as it’s delivered, rather than letting it sit at your doorstep with the potential of getting stolen. And if you’ve ordered a gift for someone that’s being directly delivered to them, you might want to text them with an estimated delivery date and then again when you get a notification that it’s been delivered.
To avoid any of these Grinch-worthy scams from happening to U, a good practice is to do your research on any unfamiliar websites or stores before making a purchase. A simple Google search can give you some helpful insight into a merchant. You can also research business information on the Better Business Bureau. If you still find yourself with a few questions, have no fear, the UMe Elves are here! You can always give our Holiday Hotline (aka our Call Center) a ring to get a second opinion — we’re happy to help and we’re always here for U!
We hope this article sheds some light on current shopping scams, so U can avoid them! If you’d like tips on how to be a super successful holiday shopper this year, click here. We’re full of helpful holiday information here at UMe!