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The Resource Center Online Security Issues & Protection | article

Protect Yourself From Email Scams This Holiday Season

Email volume spikes during the holiday season, according to estimates from Experian, one of three credit reporting agencies. There are many reasons as to why people email with almost 20 percent greater frequency during the winter months. Whether it’s communicating with far away loved ones that might not make it to a winter celebration, or confirmation emails regarding packages ordered online as gifts, inboxes are flooded throughout this time of year.

Another reason why email volume increases is that scammers take advantage of people’s jolly spirits around the holidays, inundating them with fake emails in the hopes of committing identity fraud. These messages may be holiday-themed contests or coupons that offer big rewards to recipients, but in return may only result in theft.

Scammers will make promises they cannot fulfill through email
The IRS calls this crime “phishing,” as criminals are basically hooking unsuspecting victims by making fake offers in exchange for compromising personal information. Usually these emails will ask recipients to type in their date of birth or Social Security number, even going so far as to request a home address in some situations. After the information is acquired, the scammers may use it to open up accounts or sell it to people with bad credit, damaging the victims credit score in return.

Almost everyone is vulnerable to this crime, so be wary
There are many ways that a person’s email address may end up on one of these lists, whether it was used to open up a legitimate account online and placed into a compromised database or pulled from a chain email. According to the IRS, almost anyone with a presence online is susceptible to a phishing scam given the prevalence of social media and online shopping.

Preserving your assets is a great way to celebrate the season
The perfect gift for a loved one over the holidays is enrolling them in a credit monitoring system, as this will truly be a present that keeps on giving. Should activity appear strange on the recipients credit report that might signal fraud, they will be alerted, giving them an advantage in fighting identity thieves.