Holiday scams are becoming more common, and they can be a tricky thing to avoid. If you've received a holiday scam call, don't panic. There are ways to protect yourself from these types of calls in the future.
Holiday scams are becoming a more common problem, with scammers using sophisticated methods to target their victims. You must know what to look for and how to protect yourself against holiday scams.
What is the Holiday Scam Call?
A holiday scam call is a phone call that you receive from someone claiming to be your long-lost relative or a friend who needs money for an emergency.
The caller will often tell you that they've been looking for you for years and want to know if there's anything left of your inheritance. They may also say strange things like: "I need $50K cash immediately!" or "I know where my sister lives, and she has my son with her! I need some money today!"
This type of scam can happen anytime during the year. Still, it occurs most frequently during Christmas when we all get excited about spending time with friends and family members who live far away from us (and often don't even realize how much effort goes into ensuring everyone gets together).
How Does It Work?
Holiday scam calls are a popular way to target the elderly. The crooks use the following tactics:
- Calling you on your cell phone, pretending to be someone you know or an official from your bank or credit card company.
- Trying to trick you into revealing personal information over the phone, such as bank account numbers or Social Security number(s).
- Using technology such as computer programs and apps that can make it seem like an automated call from your bank or other institution (e.g., "We're calling because we have detected unusual activity in your account").
If you receive a call from someone who says they are calling about your holiday bookings, it is most likely a scam.
If you have booked through the official website of any hotel or travel agency, then it's safe to assume that this is a genuine call. But suppose you've booked through another company and suddenly receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from one of those companies. In that case, this, too, could be a scammer trying to get information on how much money they should demand their services (and possibly even some personal data).
If this happens to you: hang up immediately! Do not give out any information. Hang up and then call back using the number provided by the caller so as not to give them more details than necessary. In particular, do not mention names or dates until after speaking with someone.
What to do if you receive a Holiday Scam Call?
Here are some things you can do if you receive a holiday scam call:
1. Be Aware, You Might Be at Risk
The holiday scam is just one of many scams that can happen to you during the holidays. The best way to avoid these scams is by knowing how they work so that you can protect yourself from becoming a victim.
While scams can be hard to recognize, knowing the warning signs is the best way to avoid becoming a victim. When you receive an unsolicited phone call from a stranger, it can be hard to tell whether the person is legitimate or trying to scam you. But some things might help tip you off about what's going on.
Look out for these red flags. They may ask you for your credit card number or bank account details. Scammers use this information to make fraudulent purchases online and transfer money onto prepaid cards they sell on eBay or other sites.
If you receive a call like this, hang up and contact your bank to ensure that the company is legitimate. If you receive any suspicious calls during this period, ignore them—hang up immediately!
2. Always Ask for the Name
When you receive a call from someone you don't know, always ask who they are and what company or organization they represent.
If the caller says they are from your bank or credit card company, ask them to report you directly. If this is a scam, they will likely refuse. But if it's genuine and something has gone wrong with your account, you should be able to get through straight away.
If they sound unfamiliar with company policies or if their answers don't match what your research has uncovered, ask how long they have worked at the company and for their LinkedIn profile (to ensure that it's legitimate).
3. Protect Your Personal Information
Phone scams are a common problem in the UK, but there are several steps you can take to avoid them. If someone calls claiming to be from your bank or credit card company, here's how you can tell whether it's a fair number.
You should never give out your personal, credit card, or online account details unless you initiated the call and know that the number is authentic. Suppose someone claims to work for your bank, credit card company, or other financial institution and asks for personal information by giving out their name. If they can't verify their identity or give you a phone number where you can reach them, don't release any personal information.
4. Register Your Number
In the UK, there are strict laws that regulate cold calling. The Telephone Preference Service (TPS), which the Communication Regulator runs, allows people to register their numbers so that telemarketers do not call them.
If you receive a call from someone who asks for money or personal information, hang up immediately and report it to the police. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) website has been set up to help detect and prosecute fraudsters—which often target vulnerable people over the phone—while also providing advice on how to avoid becoming a victim in the first place.
5. Get a Call Blocker
Here's a quick tip to help you weed out scammers: most fraudsters use the same phone number and voicemail message so that authorities cannot identify them.
If you get a call from someone using this number, it's probably automated. Get yourself a Call Blocker to stop them from ringing your landline. This way, they can't leave an automated message telling you they have reached voicemail (even though the quality of those messages is awful). A call blocker is a device that records any number dialled on your landline and reroutes the call to their voicemail.
As you can see, there are many different ways that scammers try to get money from people. Scam calls are just one of the many scams that have become popular recently. We recommend that you always be wary of these calls and not give them any personal information unless you know who they are!
Our call blockers protect you and your family from unsolicited phone calls and allow you to unwind at home. If you need to sort calls, check out our products or give us a call so we can help.