Be Aware of Holiday Scams

Nov 2022 | Featured, Financial Education

Fraud schemes are hardly limited to the holidays, but they tend to spike during this high-spending and stressful time of the year. Make sure you are armed with information on the fraud practices and how to avoid becoming a victim.

Here are several fraud methods you may encounter:

Brute Force Schemes

Attempts to crack a password or username, find a hidden web page, or find the key used to encrypt a message using a trial-and-error approach to guess correctly. This is an old attack method, but it’s still effective and popular with hackers as they work, whether to crack a single card number or complete BIN.


Using electronic devices to scan and store credit and debit card numbers and PINs. ATMs and some unattended terminals, such as gas stations, are targets for this practice. This information can then be sold to fraudsters or used to commit theft directly. Fraudsters can use the numbers to make online purchases or to create fake cards for in-store transactions.


The fraudulent practice of sending emails impersonating reputable companies in order to convince individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.

SMiShing (SMS phishing)

Act of attempting to acquire personal information such as passwords and details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity through SMS text messages on cell phones. SMiShing messages may come from telephone numbers that are in a strange or unexpected format with links directing to fake websites.

A typical SMiShing occurrence can begin by you receiving a text message inquiring about a suspicious transaction on an account. In reality, the fraudster is looking to obtain other information from you such as debit/credit card numbers, CV2 codes, expiration dates, PINs and other web login credentials.

A legitimate SMS text messages from Alaska Air Group Credit Union will NEVER include:

  • Requests for cardholder’s data, such as card numbers, PINs, CV2 Codes, or Expiration Dates
  • Vague reference of a “merchant” transaction; details should be included
  • Hyperlinks to unknown websites
  • Phone numbers as hyperlinks


The telephone equivalent of phishing. It is described as the act of using the telephone to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for fraudulent purchases or identity theft.


This holiday season beware of the rise of holiday specific fraud schemes. These may include:

Seasonal Travel Scams

  • Beware of deals that are too good to be true
  • You should always know who they are booking their travel through

Holiday Charity Scams

  • A legitimate charity will welcome donations whenever you choose to make it. Fraudsters will pressure them to make it immediately.
  • Don’t make any donation with a gift card or wire transfer.
  • If donating online, be sure to verify the website to ensure it is a legitimate charity website.

Account Takeover

  • All user information is targeted in data breaches, not just payment card information.
  • As fraud controls get smarter, fraudsters are shifting their strategies and patterns to bypass controls.


If you are unsure if something is a scam, use this quick and easy Scam Checker activity to help you gauge whether something is suspicious of being fraud.



If you have any fraud-related questions, or want more information on adding a risk solution, please reach out to the credit union at or call us at 206-824-9800

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Alaska Air Group Credit Union
Seattle Office
(206) 824-9800
Anchorage Office
(907) 563-5335