Desperate times call for desperate measures. But just when you think it’s safe to believe the world is entering a more normal state, omicron rears its ugly head with its Transformers-villain-like name. While it’s still nothing more than a “variant of interest,” even an errant fart in the wind has the potential to rattle our cage and put us on the defensive. But given the passing of Turkey Day and the busiest shopping days of the year (Black this and Cyber that), we are now smack dab in the full-blown throes of the holiday shopping season. Given all the money changing hands right now, it’s actually OK to have your guard up because with holiday shopping season also comes shopping fraud season. So fear not, your perfectly justified skepticism brought on by a heavy 2021 is actually good and healthy. Let’s talk about how to channel that energy in productive ways.
In this article, we cover:
- How holiday shopping season brings fraud season too.
- Holiday shopping trends.
- The most comprehensive defense against holiday scams over the phone.
Have you noticed that Black Friday has been less of a single-day, all-hands-on-deck, “hide your kids, hide your wife” event this year? Well, you’re not dreaming it. Supply chain struggles are well-documented by now. In an attempt to curb demand and steady the flow of supply, retailers began offering deals before Black Friday, even offering extended price protection so consumers could shop worry-free in advance and afterward without fear of missing out on big discounts. But by spreading out the joy of Black Friday deals throughout the holiday season, fraudsters too have been granted a larger window of opportunity to craft their wily ways into our personal information and bank accounts.
With a majority of Americans likely to do their Christmas shopping online this year — a first in Gallup holiday spending trend history — the stakes and risk couldn’t be higher. In fact, consumers are planning to spend an average of $886 on Christmas gifts this year. And though sales recently hit $8.9 billion in revenue on Black Friday and $10.7 billion on Cyber Monday, both marks are actually slight downticks from the same shopping days in 2020. Still, brands are still expected to cash in on record-breaking growth this holiday season in total. Hand-in-hand with this flurry of shopping activity has come a rise in fraud. Three-quarters of retailers have seen fraud increase during the pandemic. And a dearth of CPVID-related fraud reports have led consumers to lose a total of $48 million from January 2020 to mid October of 2021.
So how do you, the average consumer, protect yourself from all the risk?
Step Up Your Fraud-Detection Game
You’re likely to be exchanging money with several entities this holiday season. That’s a lot of retailers, sellers, boutiques, online shops, creditors, and banks to manage. They’re all vying for your attention in your inbox and on the phone. Some will attempt to rise above the noise by offering smoking hot deals on items you’d like to purchase or financing you’d like to take advantage of. Through this flurry of communications, consumers must remain vigilant. Some communications from brands you’ve never heard of will be fraudulent, which sounds easy to avoid because, well, they’re strangers — and we all know not to talk to strangers. But fraud wouldn’t be fraud if the bad guys didn’t try to impersonate the brands you trust too.
That is why you and your loved ones must double your vigilance against phishing, vishing, and smishing attacks. Step one is to try not giggling when you hear those words. Step two, never trust anyone to be who they say they are over email, text, or the phone. It’s child’s play to tweak email headers and carrier caller ID to appear like someone is calling from the IRS, Bank of America, or Target.
The most comprehensive defense against holiday scams over the phone in particular is with a robocall blocker and caller ID like YouMail. YouMail caller ID is a significant upgrade over your default carrier caller ID because of our comprehensive call database. The truth is a huge percentage of calls you receive are from telemarketers, scammers, and robocallers — even more so during the holiday season. YouMail’s free caller ID app allows you to instantly identify more incoming phone numbers with greater accuracy, saving you precious time, money, and braincells.
When you receive a call, we display the name, city, and state so you can determine whether or not it’s who it claims to be. If the call comes from a flagged number, we identify the type of scam clearly and send them directly to a “number out of service” message, which effectively removes you from their call lists.
There really is no better way to filter the scams, spam, and junk from the pure joy that awaits you from legitimate holiday shopping offers.
If you’re ready to go all-in on the holiday spirit without worrying about what malfeasance awaits on the other end of the line, these desperate times don’t call for desperate measures. Simply download the YouMail app — on iOS or Android — and put an end to fraud season.