While identity theft happens all year round, scammers can be especially heartless around the holidays. From so-called “porch pirates” to fake charities, criminals and rip-off artists have plenty of ways to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers, so it pays to be vigilant – especially when shopping online this holiday season.
Among the 12 Scams of Christmas highlighted by the Better Business Bureau, most involve some form of identity theft. The statistics on this problem are staggering: According to Javelin Strategy and Research, 15.4 million people in the U.S. became identity fraud victims in 2016, up 16 percent from the prior year. And as more companies, such as Equifax, suffer from data breaches, this year’s statistics will likely be even more eye-opening.
We recently invited a representative from Colorado’s 1st District Attorney’s Office to share some fraud prevention tips with clients of M.J. Smith & Associates. Cary Johnson offered a number of resources to help individuals and families protect themselves – not just during the holidays, but all year round. We’ve included a link to Mr. Johnson’s handout here, and I recommend that you print it and keep it handy for future reference.
This holiday season, though, you might want to keep these websites handy if you do your holiday shopping on the internet:
- http://global.sitesafety.trendmicro.com/index.php This website enables you to type in any URL to check on whether a website is safe and reliable. If you receive an unsolicited email with links to a shopping site, you might want to check the link before deciding whether to shop.
- idtheftcenter.org/protect-yourself/scams-alerts.html With this website, you can check to see whether a call or an email you received is legitimate. The ID Theft Center tracks scams and posts them here for consumers.
- http://housecall.trendmicro.com If you’re worried that your computer may have picked up a virus from an online shopping site, this website will scan your computer for malicious software for free.
You can even find more tips and resources in Mr. Johnson’s handout, and you can see his entire presentation on our website. Be careful this holiday season, and best wishes from all of us at M.J. Smith & Associates!
The information contained in these webinars does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Cary Johnson is not affiliated with Raymond James. Please include: Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website's users and/or members. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation. The prominent underlying risk of using bitcoin as a medium of exchange is that it is not authorized or regulated by any central bank. Bitcoin issuers are not registered with the SEC, and the bitcoin marketplace is currently unregulated. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are a very speculative investment and involves a high degree of risk. Investors must have the financial ability, sophistication/experience and willingness to bear the risks of an investment, and a potential total loss of their investment. Securities that have been classified as Bitcoin-related cannot be purchased or deposited in Raymond James client accounts.