While the holidays are a great time for deals, it is also a prime time for scams and fraud. To avoid falling victim to these deceptive offers, watch out for these common tricks.
Unfamiliar Sites Offering Steep Discounts
If you come across any of these, proceed with caution. Often times, these websites promise incredible deals on brand names or gift cards as a bonus for purchasing a product, but they don’t deliver. You submit your payment, but never receive your order, and there’s no way to contact the business. You are left giving away money, personal information, and potentially compromising your identity. In addition, you should always be careful with unsolicited emails promoting these too-good-to-be-true deals, which usually contain phishing links that put your information at risk.
And if you’re shopping online, never wire money for a purchase. Once a money transfer is received, it cannot be recovered. Also, be sure you are shopping on secure sites and use two-factor authentication and complex passwords for customer accounts. While online shopping and checking out, make sure that the URL remains at the same domain. If it changes, this may be a sign that you are being redirected to a fraudulent site. Bottom line: Err on the side of caution and stick with known retailers and manufacturers.
During the holiday season, generosity is usually high and charities often reap these benefits. Scammers tend to prey on the kindness of others by creating fake charities or misusing the names of well-known charities.
Before you donate, do some research and verify that the charity and web address are valid. Also, use a check or credit card, rather than a wire transfer or cash, when you donate. In case the charity is fraudulent, it would be easier to recover your donation if a check or credit card was used.
Seasonal Employment Scams
Seasonal employment allows for workers to make some extra cash during the holidays. Scammers see this as an opportunity to offer fake jobs that require prospective employees to pay for “training” or a “start-up kit.” Consider these red flags, as well as job listings that state “no experience necessary” and “work from home” (especially if they are used in the same post).
Social Media Mishaps
Social media can be risky in many ways. Scammers may use social media to post deceptive links to install malware or viruses on computers. To cut down on your susceptibility to this, avoid accepting friend requests from people you don’t know well and refrain from clicking on suspicious posts.
You can also make yourself an easy target by sharing too much information on social media. You may enjoy checking in and posting your location on your profile, however, this can give thieves an upper hand by inadvertently promoting the fact that your home is vacant. Avoid posting concert tickets and trip accommodations as well, since they can be printed and sold to someone else. Tip: If you must share your tickets on social media, refrain from sharing the barcode and event date.
Smartphone App Scams
Be careful when downloading apps. Apps disguised as games and offered for free can be used to steal personal information from your device. Look for third-party reviews before downloading from an unknown source, and if anything seems suspicious, skip it.
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Spending time with loved ones, presents, the end of the year – There’s a lot to look forward to when it comes to the holidays. Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad. There’s often an increase in package thefts and scams during the holidays. Luckily, if you play it smart, you can avoid becoming a victim. Here are some holiday scams to look out for this year.
Fake Shipping Notifications Be aware of what you order and take note of sender address, typos, and such. These emails may contain attachments or links which may potentially download malware on your computer or steal your personal information. Like any attachments in your inbox, proceed with caution.
E-Cards If you receive an electronic holiday card, be sure that you can easily identify who it’s from and that you do not have to enter any additional information to access the card. While they seem like a nice sentiment, it could be a ploy to steal your information.
Letters From Santa There are companies that provide personalized letters from Santa, however, there are also scammers who mimic these services to steal your personal information. If you are thinking of using a company, check with the bbb.org first to see if they are legitimate.
Temporary Holiday Jobs If you’re looking for a temp job to gain extra income during the holidays, be sure to apply in person or go to the retailer’s main website. There are listings out there that may require you to share personal information online or even pay for a job lead. If you encounter any of these, consider it a red flag and look elsewhere.
Unusual Forms Of Payment Avoid anyone who asks you to pay with prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers, third parties, etc. These forms of payment cannot be traced nor reversed. Use a credit card (they offer better fraud protection than debit cards) on a secure website. And always look for “https” in the web address (as the “s” is for “secure”) and the lock symbol.
Social Media Gift Exchange If it sounds too good to be true, more often than not, it is. This gift exchange promises 36 gifts in return if you buy one gift. But according to the BBB it is a variation of the pyramid scam and is illegal.
Phony Websites & Apps More and more people are opting for convenience by shopping online or through phone apps. Unfortunately, this makes shoppers more susceptible to fake websites and fake apps. Just because it’s marked with an Amazon or EBay logo doesn’t mean that it’s real. For online shopping, watch out for URLs with the names of popular brands along with extra words.
Bogus Charities Before donating, be sure the charity is real and you are using the proper donating method. Around the holidays, there are scam artists who send emails for fake charities or viral promos. Try these resources to ensure that you safely donate to the charities of your choice: Give.org, Charity Watch, or Internal Revenue Service.
Promotional Emails Pay close attention when you receive any promotional emails. If it is not from a trusted retailer, avoid clicking any links within the email if you open it.
Gift Card Scams There are thieves who copy the numbers off of gift cards in stores and call the number to check if the card is activated. Once it is, they spend the value online and the gift recipient is left with nothing. Also, never buy discounted gift cards online. The seller will keep your money and use the gift card as well.
Package Theft It’s likely that you’ve seen package theft all over the news since the beginning of holiday season. To prevent this, require a signature for your deliveries. If no one will be home during drop off time, arrange to have your package held at the nearest service location for you to pick up at a later time.
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