International Fraud Awareness Week is perfectly timed to promote awareness right before some of the biggest shopping days of the year, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The weeklong campaign was established by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners in 2000 to promote anti-fraud awareness and education. As a specialist in cleaning High Security facilities, Mister Kleen supports efforts to minimize the impact of fraud, which often is related to security issues and vulnerabilities. We’ve collected timely information to help you protect against fraud this season.
The surge in online shopping because of COVID-19 is expected to continue as we enter the holiday season. Some common tips to avoid fraud during the holidays include:
- Use a secure network when shopping online and avoid public Wi-Fi when making purchases.
- Use legitimate websites that have “https” in the address and an icon of a locked padlock on the left side of the URL.
- Use cash or a credit card rather than debit cards, which don’t provide the same level of protection.
- Watch for credit card skimmers on ATM machines.
- Review your credit card and bank statements regularly. You can get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three national credit reporting companies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). Click here for more information from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), including how to order your free annual report.
Aside from shopping, many people donate to charities in the spirit of the season. The FBI offers some great tips and resources to protect yourself from scams, such as how to examine the track record of a charity. Click here to view their page with more tips.
Hackers are finding more ways to steal your identity in order to commit fraud. The AARP outlines some of the more popular scams during this time, including fake UPS or FedEx delivery emails and “Letters from Santa.” Click here for more information, including warning signs and what you can do to avoid falling victim to these deceptive practices.
One scam that isn’t mentioned in their article is the “Secret Sister” gift exchange that pops up on Facebook around this time of year. It started in 2015 with the promise that participants would receive up to 36 gifts, and recent versions suggest exchanging bottles of wine or purchasing $10 gifts online. The Better Business Bureau outlines how they’re a pyramid scheme that is not only illegal, but leaves you vulnerable to identity theft. Click here to read more about this on their website.
Fraudsters are not only using the holidays for their scams – the pandemic also offers opportunities to cheat you out of your money or personal information. Phony cures to prevent COVID-19, fake antibody tests, cons to hand over your stimulus check – the list goes on. Click here for the AARP’s overview of these scams, then check out the FTC’s advice for consumers on how to avoid them.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE A VICTIM
Below are some resources if you fall prey to different types of fraud:
- Credit card fraud: Experian offers a checklist of actions to take if you find unauthorized charges on your credit card.
- Identity theft: The FTC has created a website dedicated to reporting identity theft and planning your recovery – go to identitytheft.gov. The state of Virginia also has robust online resources, including information on the Identity Theft Passport, which is a card that you can use to prove who you are while you wait for your official documents. Click here for more information.
- Social media hacks: McAfee, a leading cybersecurity business, suggests changing your password and notifying your networks if you realize your account has been hacked. Click here to learn about other actions you can take, as well as preventative measures.
We hope these tips and resources can help you enjoy the holiday season and keep you safe from fraud!
Mister Kleen is a leading provider of contract cleaning services to Commercial and High Security facilities since 1976. Our primary service area is the DC Metro region. We also provide a variety of interior and exterior specialty services.