Fraud Chronicles Newsroom Security Articles & Alerts

Spotlight: Holiday Scams

With the holiday season right around the corner, fraudsters are gearing up scams to steal personal and financial information. Ads through social media, emails and texts can lead well-meaning consumers looking for gifts for loved ones to pay for products they may never see. The risks of shopping online have never been higher.

Stay safe this holiday season:

  • Shop at secure websites. Look for web addresses that begin with “https” for secure sites.
  • Beware of unsecured public wifi.
  • Update security software for devices. Antivirus and firewall applications are vital to safely navigating online.
  • Use strong passwords. Unique, difficult to guess passwords greatly increase the security of online profiles.
  • Enable multi-factor authentication.

Remember, trusted online sellers will use more than gift cards, money transfers such as Western Union, or cryptocurrency. Deals from unexpected emails or texts are also highly suspicious and should be avoided. Do not give personal information to anyone you don’t know and beware of any deal sounds too good to be true.

Read more about holiday scams from the IRS.

Trending: Social Media Scams

By scrolling on social media such as Facebook or Instagram you may see an “ad” that interests you. But once you click on that link it will be hard to go back. Scammers use social media platforms by learning what you share on social media and place ads to target you based on your personal details, age, interests, past purchases, likes and dislikes. Social media scammers can also manufacture a fake persona, hack into your profile, pretend to be you and con your friends.

Tips to steer clear of scams on social media:

  • Limit who can see your posts and information on social media. All platforms collect information about you from your activities on social media but visit your privacy settings to set some restrictions.
  • If you get a message from a friend about an opportunity or an urgent need for money, call them. Their account may have been hacked—especially if they ask you to pay by cryptocurrency, gift card, or wire transfer. That’s how scammers ask you to pay.
  • If someone appears on your social media and rushes you to start a friendship or romance, slow down. Never send money to someone you haven’t met in person.
  • Before you buy, check out the company. Search online for its name plus “scam” or “complaint.”

Read more about social media scams from the Federal Trade Commission.

Trending: Tech Support Scams

Fraudsters often pose as online helpers offering to save people from computer viruses by gaining access to their computer. A fraudster might use malware or fake popups to convince their victim to contact them for help, which they will provide for a fee. The fraudster can then “get rid of” the viruses that weren’t there in the first place by requesting remote access to their victim’s computer. The remote access would allow them to steal personal information and bank account login credentials. Using popups, calls, text and email, claiming to be from legitimate companies to convince many to trust them. In order to “get rid of” the virus, the fraudster then asks the victim to pay for the removal by putting money on a gift card, sending by wire, a money transfer app or cryptocurrency.

How to protect yourself:

  • Shut down the device. If you can’t close a browser window to get rid of the popup, reboot your computer.
  • Never call the phone number provided. Legitimate tech companies will not ask you to call a phone number or click a link.
  • Ignore unsolicited calls, texts and emails that tell you “There’s a problem with your computer”. Real tech support staffers will never contact you out of the blue.
  • Do not let an unknown, unverified person get into your computer or device if they request remote access.
  • Resist the sense of urgency. Scammers want victims to react fast and not take time to question the red flags or think of the situation clearly.

Read more about tech support scams from AARP.

If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, contact our Customer Care Center immediately at (617) 969-4300 and report it to the FTC at

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