Winter holidays are just around the corner. The festivities! The food! The fun! The fraud? Unfortunately, yes. The holidays don’t just herald a season of goodwill to all. They also usher in a seasonal increase in financial scams. Now’s a good time to revisit these tips for protecting your financial well-being—for yourself and your loved ones.
The holidays provide more opportunities for deception because people are extra busy, distracted, and feeling particularly generous. Scammers exploit open hearts and open wallets by creating fake websites that look just like the real thing as well as Go-Fund-Me campaigns for illegitimate causes. They impersonate people and nonprofits you trust, luring you with emails, calls, texts, and social media ads to divulge your personal information, click on links that download malware, and give them money.
As you choose which charity will make the most meaningful impact for you and your community, here are some tips for recognizing and protecting yourself from potential scams.
Do your homework to verify a charity is legitimate (see Give.org or Charity Navigator) and not associated with terms like “scam” or “fraud.”
Donate directly to a charity’s website instead of clicking on links in an email or text.
Don’t give in to false urgency to “act now” or pay with cash, gift cards, or wire transfers, which can’t be reversed and are difficult for authorities to trace. No legitimate charity will ask you for these forms of payment.
If you pay with a credit card, check your account regularly to ensure you were charged the correct amount and didn’t unwittingly sign up for a recurring donation.
We hope these tips will help you stay on your [mistle]toes this holiday season, but if you are the victim of fraud, please know you’re not alone—it can happen to anyone. Report the scam as soon as you can by contacting Redwood Credit Union online or calling RCU’s Member Service Center at 1 (800) 479-7928. RCU can help you minimize damage, try to recover losses, and work with law enforcement.
And if you’re comfortable doing so, please share your story with friends and family to help them protect themselves. We all need to work together to shine a light on fraudulent activity.