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Holiday Scams Hit All Time High

The holidays are a busy time of year for all of us. Stores are open later, people are running around more, and consumerism is at its absolute peak. Like us normal folk, however, scammers are also out and about during these jolly months; as they are certain that our wallets will be open more often than not.

Though the landscape of the scam movement has changed to a cyber platform, there are still plenty of old school tricks left out there, hitting us where it hurts.

Using robocallers, scammers can hit millions of potential victims simultaneously, making them infinitely more dangerous than in the past. A new report from Hiya, a call-blocking app, estimates more than 10 billion robocalls will be made in the U.S. by the end of the year. This calculates to Holiday scams being up 113%.

Hiya reports seeing holiday related scams increase by more than 110% since this same time last year, as they are only growing. Jan Volzke, VP of Reputation Data at Hiya, says scammers “exploit the fact that consumers are primed to make charitable donations during the holidays.”

“Whether preying on the spirit of gifting or the desire to get away after a rocky 2016, scammers are continuing to inundate the phone lines with fraud,” Volzke said. “We hope our data can educate consumers about these malicious and annoying calls so they can get back to enjoying their holiday season.”

The Hiya report finds that since the start of 2016, the total volume of unwanted calls has grown 47%. Fraudulent calls have surged 130%.

The average consumer who has reported receiving spam calls received 118 spam calls this year. Hiya’s list of the top holiday scams are below:

Watch Out:

  • Donation/Charity Scams – A caller claiming to represent a law enforcement agency is the most common. But phony cancer and firefighter charities are right up there.
    • Tip: Never donate to any charity that calls on the phone. Instead, choose a well known national charity or support a good cause in your local community.
  • Gift Card Scams – Victims are told they’ve won a free gift card, but have to pay a small fee of some type in order to receive it. Scammers also offer to sell victims a gift card, with the promise they will get two additional gift cards free. Of course, they don’t receive any gift cards. Hiya says this scam is up 162% from last year.
    • Tip: You can go to almost any supermarket or discount store and select from a wide range of gift cards. Why would you buy one from some guy who calls you up? Remember, no legitimate business is going to offer a couple of free gift cards, just because you bought one. That’s a quick way to go out of business.
  • Holiday Cruise Scams – Who wouldn’t like to hear they’ve won a free cruise? The problem is, it’s not true. Victims who accept the winter giveaway will be told they have to pay an upfront “port fee.”
    • Tip: Something that is offered free, but requires an upfront payment of some sort, is nearly always a scam.
 Though we are hoping you take our advice and stay safe, mistakes do still occur. If you come across one of these scams, or a new one altogether, please contact us immediately so we can do our best to fix it as soon as possible.

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