As we gear up for the festivities that come during the holiday season, fraud is probably the last thing on your mind. There is so much joy during the holidays, and nothing would steal it away more than being scammed out of hundreds of dollars…or worse, your identity being stolen.
To make sure holiday fraud doesn’t steal your Christmas, here are four common scams to look out for, how to avoid them and some extra tips on how to keep your personal information and money safe.
1. Gift Cards Scams
If a seller demands to be paid with a gift card, it is most likely a scam. Gift cards are almost untraceable so once that money is gone, it’s gone. With supply chain shortages this year, many will receive gift cards in replacement of presents. Make sure whomever you’re buying from with a gift card is an authentic seller.
2. Charity scams
The holidays are arguably the best season for charity and non-profit fundraising. We all see the Salvation Army outside our local grocery store, St. Jude commercials with our favorite celebrities and the Angel Trees in our houses of worship. Unfortunately, scammers take advantage of the giving spirit and pretend they are charities, and in reality, they are taking money for profit. They will call and ask for donations over the phone or online, pressuring you to make a quick decision to donate. Don’t let them make you feel pressured. If you decide to donate, do your research and make sure the organization is legitimate before paying them.
3. Package Delivery Scams
As most of us now do online shopping, package delivery scams are very common. These scammers will call, text or email from a number/address that looks like a national mail carrier, and have you click on a link to verify your information to make sure the package has gone to the right place or to ensure it does. This is dangerous because they could ask for personal information, which could lead to identity theft. If you have received a package delivery that was unexpected, or there’s a delay in one you were expecting, always proceed with caution. Double check links and spellings to make sure it’s the real thing. Don’t put any social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank information or addresses in an unknown website.
4. Holiday Temp Job Scams
Many companies will hire extra workers to keep up with the busyness of the holidays. From moms to college students who are home for Christmas, getting a holiday temporary job can be a great way to make extra cash. However, there are some shady companies out there who are running full-blown scams. They will ask that you provide your own supplies, or that you have to pay for an application or training fee. Or, they will ask you to do work and then get paid later with no formalities. Most likely that is a scam! Don’t work for free. Make sure to look up the companies before beginning work or paying anything on resources like Glassdoor or Google.com.
Bonus Tips and Reminders:
● Have a Healthy Dose of Skepticism: Whenever buying anything online, receiving an unknown call or text or getting a job offer that is hard to refuse, remember: If it is too good to be true, it most likely is. Airing on the side of caution and having a healthy dose of skepticism could save you lots of time and money.
● Always Check Website URLS: Always check websites to make sure they are authentic and secure before purchasing anything. If it is a well-known website, make sure it is spelled correctly and the URL is the same. To make sure the site is secure, look for the little lock icon image to the left of the URL.
● Use Tried and True Payment Methods: When buying things online, it is usually best to pay with a credit card. Do not wire transfer money or pay with a gift card. If it is a scam, that money will be gone. If you use a credit card, there are more protections for you and your bank because you’re not losing actual money.
● Check Seller Legitimacy: Always confirm the seller info before purchasing from someone. Check their reviews from known sources. Make sure they are a legitimate business, and make sure you are getting the product you ordered.
We hope these tips help to keep your holiday season bright while shopping this year! Happy Holiday’s and happy shopping!