The December Santa Claus rally does not only apply to the stock markets. Criminals eagerly amp up their game during the holiday season, too. While you are thinking of creative gifts for friends and family, they dream up imaginative ways to take them from you. Whether bandits steal golf clubs from an open garage or personal information over the Internet, being mindful of their methods can help you rally through the holidays safe and sound.

Email and text schemes. Bogus emails and texts attempt to deceive readers into opening a link that directs you to a phony website. Clicking on the link can activate malware that gives cybercriminals access to personal account information and potential control of your phone or computer. These websites look so authentic that it is easy to be fooled into providing sensitive details.

How often do you scroll through emails and texts, rushing to find communications regarding the arrival of a package? Do you pay close attention to anything other than the delivery date? According to FedEx, fraudulent emails are the most common avenue of online scams.

To avoid identity theft, go directly to the sender’s website and plug in your tracking information or order number to obtain information on a package.

Phone schemes. Bogus tracking updates commonly provide a phone number to call and learn more about an anticipated delivery. If you call the number, a friendly voice will answer and ask you for personal information for security purposes, reassuring you it is for your protection—when, in fact, they record your name, address, social security number, credit card number, and any other information they can gather.

If you need to speak with customer support, it is safest to use phone numbers provided on the company’s website. Avoid using phone numbers found in emails, texts or voicemails. Also, it would be uncommon for a carrier to phone you.

In an age where everything is at our fingertips, it is easy to forget that not everything is as it seems. Regrettably, cybercriminals have gotten so good at their craft it can be tough to spot fraudulent communications. Stay alert during the hectic holiday season.

HAZLETT WEALTH MANAGEMENT, LLC is independent of Raymond James and is not a registered broker/dealer. Investment advisory services are offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. 675 Sun Valley Road, Suite J1 + J2 Ketchum, Idaho 83340 208.726.0605. 

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