Holiday Scam Trends
Fraudsters don’t stop scheming during the holiday season. According to a 2022 TransUnion report, the average number of digital fraud attempts on any day between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday of last year was 82% higher than the other days of year.1
The types of fraud and payment scams criminals use on victims are constantly changing and growing just as the payments landscape keeps evolving. In all scams, fraud victims are manipulated by the fraudster to make a purchase, such as buying a gift card, or transferring money into an account under criminal control, in a reaction to an urgent but fabricated request.
To help combat fraud this holiday season, TCM Bank’s fraud team has gathered a list of current and active scam trends to watch for:
Sweetheart, or romance, scams are when the cardholder believes they are in a relationship with someone that they have not met or do not know. The scammer finds various ways to convince the cardholder to send them money by convincing them that they need funds for various scenarios such as legal fees or criminal charges, lost or stolen wallet, stranded in a country or city with no access to money to get back ‘home’, medical expenses, family emergency, etc. The cardholders are instructed to purchase gift cards, take a picture of the front of the gift card to send via email or text, and provide the number on the back of the gift cards. By the time the cardholders realize they are involved in a scam it is often too late and they are unable to get their money back.
USPS tracking/smishing scams are when a fraudster sends an unsolicited text message with a strange web link that says the recipient has a USPS delivery and requires a response. When this link is clicked, the criminal can receive information from the victim like account usernames, passwords, SSN, date of birth, and other sensitive information. This smishing scam happens all year but many fall victim during the holidays as online shopping is higher during this time of year.
Amazon scams are when the cardholder receives an email or a phone call from someone claiming to be an Amazon representative stating that the victim owes a large balance and Amazon is going to charge their credit card if they don’t pay the funds first. The scammer then asks them to purchase gift cards.
Business email compromise scams are when fraudsters send an email message that appears to come from a legitimate source with what appears to be a real request. This could be anything from resetting a password from an online store or the criminal posing as a community banker trying to get account numbers.
There are many other types of fraud and how criminals use them to scam victims are endless. Cardholders must remain vigilant and use caution. Before clicking any link that appears suspicious, contact the company/merchant that sent the text to verify authenticity using a phone number that you know is valid.
You can also log into your online accounts (Amazon, banking, USPS, etc.) and verify charges that have posted to your account are not fraudulent. If fallen victim to a scam, reach out to your bank and any credit card companies to report it. Visit FTC.gov for steps to report any scam related activity or identity theft. Cardholders should also remember to ask themselves if what they are doing makes sense. It is crucial to stop and think before taking any action that involves sending someone money.
TCM’s bank partners can be key players in helping to identify and combat scams for our mutual cardholders. Being proactive with customers and communicating fraud tips can help prevent them from falling victim to scams. If you have questions on fraud trends we are seeing or TCM’s procedures, please contact your Client Relations Representative. Together we can help protect our cardholders from falling prey to scams.