How To Avoid Common Holiday Ripoffs
Are you ready for the holiday season? This time of year is filled with family gatherings, shopping sprees and social events. But there is a downside. It also comes with horrific crimes perpetrated by merciless predators.
Criminals understand that the holidays are a time for joy and good will. To them, it’s a perfect opportunity to separate you from your money. Here are a few scams to watch out for.
Do you shop online? Most people do, and criminals have noticed. They’ve identified your favorite shopping sites, and learned to duplicate them. Scammers create websites that look like the real thing down to the smallest detail. They even use similar URLs to get you to log in at these phony sites. If you do, they steal your user name and password. Avoid these replica websites; always enter the complete URL of every site you visit.
The danger doesn’t end with retail sites. Criminals have even invaded the E-card industry. Sending an electronic card is a fast and easy way to connect with people, but be careful where you get them. Scam artists create their own cards, and pack them full of viruses. It’s another tricky ploy to get your private information.
When emergencies happen, you have to act fast. Con artists are counting on it. They’ve developed clever schemes that capitalize on fear. One in particular preys on the elderly. Criminals call senior citizens, usually at night, and claim to be a relative or police officer. They insist that the seldom-seen family member is in serious trouble, and in need of immediate help. The groggy relative is told to wire money for their loved one right away. Of course this money really goes directly to the bad guys.
Smishing is a growing threat that takes advantage of cell phone technology. Scammers send text messages that appear to be from a bank, retailer or other reputable business. Victims are notified about an urgent problem with their account, and offered a fast solution. To start, all they have to do is provide some personal information. If you do this, then they get everything they need to steal your identity. Real companies never send these text messages. Don’t respond to them.
The holidays are a time of giving. Thieves realize people are likely to donate to a good cause. That’s why they create phony charities. Scam artists may call, email or even come to your door asking you to help. Ignore them. If you want to donate, contact your favorite charity directly. If you’re not sure a charity is valid, check them out at the Better Business Bureau.
Everyone knows charity begins at home, so what’s wrong with a little something for yourself? Nothing, but beware of “charitable” offers from scammers. You may see popular items like iPads or smart phones advertised for free. Sure, you have to give them your credit card number, but they promise not to use it. Don’t fall for this scam. Remember that nothing is free, and something that sounds too good to be true probably is.
Need to make extra money during the holidays? Why not get a job working from home. It has all the benefits you want. You don’t have to commute, you set your own hours and you can get ripped off. Does something seem wrong? That’s because most work-at-home gigs are fake. Before you get the job, you’ll be asked for a “setup fee” or to supply personal information. It’s just another scheme; turn to reputable businesses for part-time jobs.
Want to save money this holiday season? There are bargains everywhere, but be careful where you look. Before you buy from an individual, check up on them. Read their online feedback (if possible), watch for complaints against them and run a Background Check. Know whom you’re dealing with before sending money.
Be Scam Free
Start preparing for the holidays by educating yourself about common scams. Many are around throughout the year, but they are especially prevalent during the holidays. Predators hope you’ll be too busy to notice until it’s too late.
Have you been a victim of these or similar scams? Leave a comment to share your story or your own crime prevention tips. Happy holidays!