The holidays are now in full force. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals behind us, the best is still yet to come. Based on a recent report by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), 90% of shoppers expect similar or even better deals in December. This is great news for all of us looking to save big and “shop till we drop”, however, tis the season for fraudsters to take advantage of the hustle and bustle with their various fraud scams.

While you enjoy the holidays with family and friends, be cautious and follow the following rule of thumb: “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Below are a few fraud scams that tend to increase in popularity during the Holiday Season.

Online Shopping Scams:

Online shopping scams can take on many forms. Whether it’s an unsolicited email, or some type of online advertisement promoting a “great bargain,” “one time deal” or “you’ve never seen anything like this before” usually boasts an unrealistic nature and usually screams fraud. Additionally, unsolicited emails may look like they’re coming from legitimate businesses, and may provide a call to action to “click” on the included link. Be extremely careful as these are usually infected with malware. If you’re enticed by a deal, a best practice would be to use a web browser to search the deal online, or if the email looks like it’s coming from a legitimate business, double check by typing in the actual web address for that business.

Part Time Jobs – Extra Help during the Holidays:

Fraudsters like to place various online advertisements looking for “extra help during the holidays.” Sometimes they use legitimate company names and sometimes they are completely made up. As part of the scam, they may request some type of payment. Never pay a company offering you a job to work for them. If it seems questionable, do a few minutes of research such as calling the company, or a simple web search. You’ll likely be glad you did.

Package Deliveries:

Be mindful of package deliveries. With many consumers shopping online, there are lots of deliveries to get excited over. If you receive an email or even a text message from a mail carrier, such as FedEx, UPS or the USPS requesting personal information with a link to “click here” it’s likely a fraudulent message. If you’re expecting a delivery, check with the company from where you originally placed your order. Most retailers, will send shipment tracking information, but will not ask for additional personal information. Be wary of awkward messaging and suspicious requests.

Charity Scams

Probably one of the most heartbreaking scams, is fraudsters taking advantage of those individuals who want to give back. Fraudsters aren’t compassionate, and they’re very ready and excited about collecting other people’s money. Do your research, make sure whichever organization you select is legitimate and be cautious about any notification you receive on charities via email, text, tweets and phone.

Fraudsters are creative and clever and are always trying out new scams. Be safe this holiday season and take a minute or two to question something if it doesn’t seem right.