Issue No. 124December 2022
Holiday Scams – Tis the Season to be Wary
The Holiday season brings with it many traditions—families gather together to cook and enjoy each other’s company, meals are made, gifts exchanged; and attempts by scammers to separate you from your hard-earned money go through the roof. Below, we’ll outline some yuletide tips and tricks to keep you and yours safe online throughout the holiday season.
Social Engineering scams are some of the simplest to perpetuate, and consequently increase greatly in volume this time of year. This can take the form of a call placed to your relative, telling them that they have to pay a sum of money to repair issues the scammer has ‘identified’ with their computer. The scammer will often impersonate some authority figure—the government, Microsoft, etc., in order to lend additional credence to their claims. There will also be an appeal to a sense of urgency, the idea being to get the target to act quickly, rather than think of what is being asked. If you believe that a member of your family might be vulnerable to a scam of this type, its good to develop some ground rules. One simple method to mitigate scams of this nature is to have a standing order for a phone call to be made to someone trustworthy in the family to check the veracity of the caller’s claims before any money changes hands.
Additional scams intended to take advantage of the holiday season also skyrocket this time of year. These might include scams on Facebook Marketplace (usually where the scammer is posing as a seller of something that does not exist, or as a buyer that wants to provide payment in a seemingly convoluted manner). Since most folks are out looking to buy, rather than sell, this time of year, most scammers are going to be focused on the former. Most of the flags one should look out for here are the same ‘smell test’ type items that one should look out for any time you’re purchasing something from a private seller. Is the cost too good to be true? Is the seller asking you to jump through seemingly unreasonable hoops, like sending money ahead of time? Is the seller the only person with some extremely hard-to-find item available? All these can be red flags for a scam.
Similar to scams perpetuated on Facebook Marketplace, Zelle scams or Paypal scams also increase dramatically this time of year. Many times, these take the form of money suddenly being send, the receiver being told this was in error and asked to re-transmit the money to the sender. The problem here, is that the money never existed in the first place, and one banks finish sorting the transaction out, the only person that is out any capital is the good Samaritan who sent the cash back. If you or a friend or relative are on the receiving end of a scam of this type, the best thing to do is contact support for the service itself (Zelle or Paypal) and ask them how to proceed. If the charge was truly in error, its best to let them reverse it, rather than potentially be a victim of a scam.
Last, and certainly not least, we would be remiss if we did not include the KTS Holiday Gift Guide! All the gifts we’ve outlined below can be had for under $50, and are sure to bring a smile to even the grinchiest among us. In no particular order, we present, the KTS 2022 Holiday Gift Guide!
- A highly flexible and affordable Smart Plug: https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/tp-link-kasa-smart-wi-fi-plug-slim-ep25p4
- The most unobtrusive way to talk to Google: https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/google-nest-mini
- The best affordable streaming device: https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/chromecast-with-google-tv-hd
- The best AirTag alternative: https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/tile-pro
- Affordable Pet Tracking: https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/tractive-gps-dog-lte-tracker
There you have it folks! As we bring 2022 to a close, we wanted to take a moment to thank our team, our clients, and our wonderful San Diego community for another wonderful year. Here’s wishing you peace, joy, and prosperity in the New Year!