Watch Out for These New Scams

December 8, 2022


The holidays are just around the corner, and while we are distracted with all the activities the season brings, fraudsters are out there thinking of new ways to steal your money! Every year, thousands of people become victims of holiday scams.

SECU has your back.

To avoid becoming a victim this holiday season, here are some common scams that bad actors are using to take advantage of you during this festive time of year.

Non-Delivery, Non-Payment, and Fake Listings

According to the FBI, the two most common holiday scams are non-delivery and non-payment scams. In a non-delivery scam, you buy—and pay for—items or services you found online at what looks like a legitimate business, but those items are never received. A version of this scam incudes auction scams, where fraudsters trick unsuspecting consumers into bidding and paying for items that never arrive. In either scenario, the seller goes silent after they have received your payment.

A non-payment scam is similar, but it is where you are the seller. Once you ship the item you have “sold” the payment is never received or it is returned by the financial institution for insufficient funds. You never get paid.

Also watch for the fake listing scam, where products and services are listed on job or community boards for extremely low prices. Scammers will often copy legitimate listings but replace the contact information with their own. Once payment is sent, the fraudster disappears without delivering what was promised. Remember—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Don’t be a victim!

When shopping online, know who you’re buying from or selling to. Check each website’s URL to make sure it’s legitimate and secure. If you’re purchasing from a company for the first time, do your research and check reviews. Be wary of sellers who post an auction or advertisement as if they reside in the U.S., then respond to questions by stating they are out of the country on business, family emergency, or similar reasons.

Follow these tips when paying for online purchases:

  • Never wire money directly to a seller.
  • Avoid paying for items with pre-paid gift cards unless you are certain the store where you are purchasing your items is legitimate.
  • Use a credit card when shopping online and check your statement regularly. If you see a suspicious transaction, contact your credit card company immediately to dispute the charge.

Finally, monitor the shipping process! Always get tracking numbers for items you buy online so you can make sure they have been shipped and can follow the delivery process.

Small Business Scams

If you own or operate a small business, this time of year can be exciting—and exhausting—with the increase in sales. But, you must remain vigilant to protect your business from fraud. Here are a few best practices to follow:

  • Lock up your business checks to keep them secure
  • Have a process—who creates, signs, and reorders your checks?
  • Have a different style check for each account
  • Use electronic payments if available
  • Practice dual control, review user entitlements on a regular basis
  • Review your accounts daily, and report any activity that seems suspicious right away
  • Deposit checks via a mobile app or desktop scanner
  • Segregate transactions (i.e. have a separate operating, payroll, and merchant account)
  • Train all employees consistently on how to identify fraud (email, phishing, etc.)
  • Create a secure internet usage policy

What to do if you are a Victim

Please stay safe from fraudsters this holiday season. If you feel you are a victim, contact your financial institution immediately to see if you can stop or reverse payments. Report the scam to the FTC and the police. You can report the scam to the FTC on their website at or call them at (877) 438-4338.  

It’s also a good idea to change your passwords on your devices and your financial accounts.  

Remember, SECU will never ask for your personal information through email or text. If you feel your SECU account has been compromised, call our Fraud Prevention team at (800) 879-7328.

Source: SECU’s November 2022 Newsletter

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