It’s the holiday season and that means people are traveling, spammers are spamming and people are falling for scams everywhere. Here are 3 holiday time scams you may want to think about and be cautious of. Some of them are targeted at you and others use your social media profiles to get at your family.
1. Spammers and Unsubscribe links.
This is one you wouldn’t think would be a scam, but by clicking unsubscribe on a spam email, you can actually be signing yourself up for even more spam. When you open an email, look at it, it shows up as read in your outlook because you scrolled over it, a marketing company or spammer can see that this email address is active. If you actually do something like respond or even worse, click on unsubscribe, you have now showed them that there is an actual person there.
Now that they have an actual active email address, they can start selling your email address and using it on other lists because they know there is someone there. The reason a click on unsubscribe is more valuable to a spammer than a response is that auto responders can be set up when someone leaves a company meaning the account is possibly dead. An actual click where you click to unsubscribe pulls your email information out, it means someone clicked on the link and if you do anything on the next page, you are active and can be sent more spam so they can make more money. Don’t click unsubscribe on obvious spam.
2. Getting calls that a family member is in an accident, arrested or even dead.
This is a scam from overseas. Think about your profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites. Do you have your email address there? Did you friend your family members, the person you are dating, married to, etc… on these sites? What about people you don’t know but maybe have someone in common with? Now think about your profile and did you add in a phone number, Skype numbers and then look at your family’s profiles. Also think about if you use things like 4square, Facebook, Grindr or Scruff to check in to places. You have now given an actual address of where someone lives. (Mom’s house, Grandma’s House, Boyfriend’s House, etc…) That you are in another country or that you travel a lot (check out the maps on Facebook of where your photos are, where you’ve been, etc… and the same for other social sites.) Chances are someone has phone numbers listed somewhere, or you checked in at their houses. By having a name, an address or anything else, scammers can access this and build a database in seconds using programs and apps that collect this data. By doing this, posting videos with your voice or even just by dumb luck, scammers call the most likely person to believe you are in trouble, use someone with an American accent or one that is similar to your voice and try to get money from them. I just had two people on Facebook post about this today.
3. Ketchup and Mustard Hotdogs and hotdog carts
This one is popular all year, but works better around the holidays because they know people will probably have more cash on them. The scam artist buys a hot dog or some other similar street food off a cart and adds in extra ketchup or mustard. They also have a packet of ketchup or mustard in their hand or in the hotdog so when their target walks by they can squeeze the packet and hit your clothing. While you’re staring at your clothing, your purse, wallet, shopping bags from stores (jewelry, designer clothing, etc…) are now exposed without you paying attention. If they offer napkins, you are now making contact with them meaning your hands aren’t protecting your valuables and either they have a free hand or their partner is right by you with both hands free. If you get hit with shoe polish from a shoe shiner, condiments from someone eating, etc… hold your bags and wallet tight because you are probably being targeted. Instead of letting them apologize, walk away quickly and then find something to wipe it off of your clothing with on another intersection.
There are a lot more things you can do to figure out if it’s a scam. If you check the actual links inside an email from a “Retailer” “Your investment company” or even your “bank”, right click to look at the code and see if they are actual links to the company’s site or if they are redirects through another person’s site who wants to either earn a commission, steal your information when you log in or sometimes install adware that you will never see that can both earn them commissions and steal your personal information. Anyone can list a number for customer service, a real email address for that company and even a real person’s name who works there. It’s the actual code and links you look at that help to determine if it’s real or not. If you have a favorite holiday scam, feel free to leave it below.