Watch Out for These 10 Holiday Scams
As charitable giving ramps up over the holidays, so do scams. Protect yourself this holiday with these tips:
- Read before you click: phishing scams are increasingly “smart” and even look like a shipment tracking email.
- Before you click, the safer route is to go to the trusted shipping site and plug your tracking number in directly.
- Watch out for fake charities.
- Make sure the charity you’re giving to is legitimate – do a quick search to make sure other’s online experiences have been good ones with the charity you’re considering.
- Watch your statements closely.
- There are many ways criminals can steal your identity and credit/debit card numbers. Check your statements closely to ensure all purchases are legitimate.
- With a quick bump or, more often these days, a distraction from an accomplice, criminals can remove your wallet from your pocket or purse in seconds and even take items from bags.
- Keep your wallet inside a closed purse or in a pocket with your hand on it. Leave non-essential identifying information and spare credit cards at home. Return frequently to your car to drop off purchases in the trunk and out of sight.
- At the register, be aware of your receipt and change.
- Be on the lookout for any unauthorized cash back from your debit card and make sure you received the correct change.
- You see a parcel waiting notice on your door with a phone number to call; with so many deliveries this time of year you aren’t sure which parcel it might be.
- Make sure this an 800 or a local call or else it might be a scam where you are charged exorbitant phone charges or you may be asked personal questions that lead to identity theft. Also be wary of parcel thieves, and look out for your neighbors as well.
- Twice-used gift cards. Make sure gift cards you purchase are from reputable retailers and that the activation code is still secure.
- Some scammers will take activation codes from cards at the store and use them after they are loaded.
- If you’re looking to book a vacation home for the holidays, be wary. Here are a number of red flags to look for in vacation home rental scams.
- First, as always, if the price is too good to be true, it usually is just that – not true. Never send your payment by a wire transfer or a cashier’s check. Use a credit card, so you can retrieve your funds if the transaction is fraudulent.
- You’ve won! These fake contest scams are increasingly common.
- It is impossible to win a contest you haven’t even entered. It is important to remember that no legitimate lottery charges you fees to claim your prize, nor ask for any personal information from you.
- The grandparent scam is another one done throughout the year; however, it is more prevalent during the holidays when college-age grandchildren may be traveling. The scam starts with a phone call apparently from a grandchild who has encountered a medical or legal emergency and needs money immediately. Often the scammers get personal information to make the call sound legitimate through the child’s Facebook page or other social media.
- A good way to be proactive is to have a secret word a child should use in an emergency situation. If the caller doesn’t know it, it is probably a scam.
Information is power when it comes to scams. Use caution and trust your gut – when something feels not right or out of the ordinary, stop and take a step back.
Read the more scam information and tips from The Today Show and Scambusters.
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