Some things make an appearance every holiday season: bustling shopping malls, rows of homes strung with lights, office parties—and scams aimed at exploiting holiday shoppers and year-end philanthropists. Hiding among the festive décor are four scams waiting to grab your money like it's the last slice of pie at the dinner table.
Too-good-to-be-true Travel Offers
A tropical getaway is always enticing in the midst of winter, and that is exactly what scammers are banking on. However, what seems like a dream vacation could end up being a financial nightmare, since you'll end up paying for a trip you can't go on.
- Be skeptical of "free" trip offers
- Know what is included in a package deal. Get it in writing
- Do your own travel research to verify the legitimacy of any deals
Not-so-jolly Job Postings
The ad promises to get you the perfect well-paying job. Who doesn't want that? Most phony job postings whimsically detail a dream career we've all been waiting for. Be skeptical—it might just be a dubious scheme to steal your personal information and identity.
- Don't pay an upfront fee to an employment agency
- Know exactly what services are being offered
- Get all promises in writing
Coal-stuffing Prizes and Sweepstakes
"Congratulations! It's your lucky day—you've won a car, cash or (some other incredible prize)," or so the email says. It's most likely you're just one of the many people who received this spam email or saw this pop-up ad that is trying to trick you into handing over personal information or money, in hopes of receiving a reward.
- Never hand over any financial information or account numbers to individuals or companies you don't know or trust
- Be especially wary of foreign sweepstakes and lotteries, especially when they say you could enter a foreign lottery. Even though they have your email address and/or your name, it's illegal to play a foreign lottery.
- Never respond to anyone offering money, especially when it seems too good to be true. A common example is "Nigerian Prince is offering you a fortune in exchange of help (and money)." There is most likely no prince involved, nor any money for you—just a con artist with a computer and a list of random email addresses.
The holiday season is meant for giving, but be sure to validate any charity to which you choose to donate. For help, use services like the Better Business Bureau® (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance , Charity Navigator® or CharityWatch.
- Ask for written information about the charity, so you can fact check
- Beware of sound-alike charities—look it up before donating. Note that some scams use a similar sounding name of notable charities, and many often sound so similar, the spelling in the web address could be only slightly different from that of the legitimate charity.
At Navy Federal, we work to guard your finances from fraud—always keeping you and your financial protection in mind.