Home > Identity Theft > 5 Ways Identity Thieves Can Steal Christmas

Comments 0 Comments

During the holidays consumers are more giving and willing to open their wallets to spend on presents and donate to charity — something identity thieves count on. Thieves often prey on victims during the holidays through a variety of schemes to take their information and their money. Since the Grinch isn’t the only one out to steal Christmas, consumers should protect themselves from the rise in scams this holiday season.

Here are five common holiday scams.

1. Santa Letter Scam

Writing letters to Santa is one of the most innocent ways to celebrate the spirit of the season, and identity thieves may use this opportunity to steal your information. The Santa letter scam uses a website claiming to write children a letter from Santa, but aims to steal personal information.

2. Malware-Infected Shopping Sites

Similar to the scam above, fraudulent shopping sites that may show up on search results could try to steal your financial information through malware, AARP warns. Once you click on a link on a fake shopping site, you may accidentally download malware that will allow cybercriminals to spy on your login details and more. These types of scams can easily progress to new-account fraud, with scammers using your keystrokes to figure out your Social Security number, date of birth and more. To avoid an identity theft nightmare, be sure to keep an eye on your financial accounts and credit. You can get your credit reports for free once a year under federal law, and you can also check your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.

3. Gift Card Fraud

With the holiday season, shoppers are likely to purchase preloaded cards as a gift. However, scammers could attempt to scan and copy the information of unloaded gift cards on display. Then they wait until consumers add money and activate the card (they can check by calling the number on the back of the gift card) before they steal the money using the information scanned from the card or transfer the data onto a new card. While in stores, ask the cashier to scan the card to ensure it is the right value.

4. Email Phishing Schemes

Scammers often try to take advantage of the holiday season by pursuing consumer information using email phishing. You may get unsolicited emails from senders masked as well-known brands offering deals that are likely too good to be true. Avoid email phishing scams by not clicking on emails from addresses you don’t recognize.

5. Fake Charities

Known as the season for giving, the days surrounding Christmas mean more charities are out asking for money. However, if you get a call or email from a charity requesting a donation, make sure that these organizations are legitimate. You can check to see whether these charities are real by going to www.guidestar.org, which rates charities and nonprofits, or by visiting the BBB’s site.

More on Identity Theft:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team