A lot of Minnesota consumers are worried about identity theft this holiday season, and for good reason. More than two million Minnesota residents were affected by the Equifax breach. This massive security hack left these consumers (and many, many more throughout the U.S.) with exposed Social Security numbers. Other stolen personal included names, birthdates, driver’s license numbers, and credit card numbers. Still, in the face of the giant concern caused by the Equifax incident, consumers in Minnesota shouldn’t forget the threats posed by smaller-scale fraudsters. A lot of scammers in Minnesota still rely on older scams – often with new twists that modern technology affords. Unfortunately, even the oldest scam in the books can cost you money and hurt your credit score if you get caught unaware.
Four Common Holiday Scams that Minnesota Consumers Should Avoid Falling Victim To
For many consumers in Minnesota, this is an extremely busy time of year. It is easy to get distracted while trying to sort out everything on a very long to-do list. Sadly, though, fraudsters know this, and that’s why this is a busy season for them too. It’s much easier to trick Minnesota consumers when they are off-guard and distracted. Yet, you can do a lot to protect yourself, your finances, and your credit score by exercising a little more caution while online, on the phone, and out shopping.
Gift Card Fraud
The simplest version of this scam is unsophisticated, but effective. A fraudster visits a Minnesota store, and records numbers from gift cards on display. Then, they simply call the issuing companies repeatedly until the gift cards are activated (when consumers purchase the cards). Immediately after verifying card activation, the scammer goes online and makes purchases with the stolen gift card numbers. Unfortunately, if thieves are successful, the compromised gift cards won’t work when the actual recipients try to use them.
Normally, Minnesota gift card thieves steal number well in advance of the holidays. So, in order to avoid falling victim to this scam, purchase card closer to the holidays, and verify the dollar amounts on the cards before giving them to recipients. It is also a good idea to advise recipients to use the cards as quickly as possible.
It is wonderful that so many Minnesota residents feel the urge to give generously during the holiday season. However, it is NOT wonderful that fraudsters take advantage of this generosity. Sadly, scammers make a lot of money by impersonating charities during the holidays. You think you’re doing a good thing by making a donation either on the phone or online. Only, you find out later that your payment information was stolen.
If you accidently give your payment information to an identity thief, they might drain your bank account or make fraudulent charges with your credit card number. If they get enough information, scammers can set up bogus accounts in your name. So, don’t risk it. Avoid giving out payment info and personal data over the phone – even if the caller gives the name of a real charity. Instead, give online, but only on verified and secure websites. Or, you can always keep some extra cash on you, and drop some in the red kettles next to the friendly people ringing bells.
Phishing scams come in a number of different varieties, but here’s a common one used during the holidays. An identity thief stalks your social media pages and finds out what you like – stores, products, brands, etc. The scammer then sends you an email that looks like it’s from a well-known company. This email contains an offer for an amazing discount, so you respond with all of your relevant information. The scammer then takes your data and steals your money or uses your info to rack up bogus charges and possibly damage your credit score.
The lesson here for all Minnesota consumers is to verify the authenticity of any emailed offer or promotion. Never respond to an email with personal information unless you are 100% sure that it is from a trusted source.
It is very sad that something as seemingly innocent as an e-card might serve as a tool of destruction for your finances and credit score. Yet, identity thieves often fool Minnesota consumers with this very underhanded trick. They learn the names of your friends and family members from social media accounts, then send e-cards that look like they are from these people. Unfortunately, these phony greetings might contain malware. If you open them, you might give an identity thief the means to hold your computer hostage or record all of your online activity. In the case of the latter, hackers can potentially access all of your sensitive information. This may include your credit card numbers and Social Security number.
Of course, you don’t have to ignore every e-card you receive. Just ask the sender to verify that they sent it before opening it. Granted, this may seem like a tedious step in a simple e-card exchange, but it could save you from becoming the next identity theft victim in Minnesota.
Why Minnesota Consumers Should Check their Credit Reports to Avoid Becoming Identity Theft Victims During the Holiday Season
Because identity theft is such a big threat right now – in Minnesota and every U.S. state, consumers often become victims even if they exercise caution. For this reason, all Minnesota residents should regularly check their credit reports for suspicious activity.
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) entitles all consumers to free copies of their credit reports from the three major credit bureaus every 12 months. Your can easily request credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. In fact, this is the only free credit report website that is authorized by the federal government.
If, while reviewing your credit reports, you spot unauthorized accounts or bogus transactions that indicate identity theft, file a police report right away. Next, contact Credit Repair Lawyers of America in Minnesota. The credit pros at our firm help identity theft victims in Minnesota with credit report every day. So, when you call or fill out our online form, we will connect you with an experienced credit attorney who will do whatever it takes to get fraudulent items removed from your credit reports for FREE.
The Free and Legal way to Get Better Credit After Identity Theft in Minnesota
Don’t let fraudulent accounts or transactions on your credit reports bring your credit score down. At Credit Repair Lawyers of America, we’ve been cleaning up credit reports for consumers since 2008 for free. How do we do it? The law allows us to collect our fees and costs from the defendants in any successful action. This is why our clients pay nothing for the work we do.
Let’s start the conversation about what we can do for your credit. Set up your free consultation today by calling Attorney Gary Nitzkin at (612) 235-4458 or sending him a message through our contact page.
For more information about Free Credit Repair After Identity Theft, please visit https://creditrepairlawyersam.com/minnesota/id-theft/.