‘Tis the season to be jolly! And unfortunately, ‘tis also the season for scammers to go after your hard-earned dollars. Keep your money safe by reading up on the most common scams taking place this time of year and practicing caution.
1. Phishing emails - Phishing scams abound ahead of the holidays. They can take the form of bogus delivery confirmation requests seeking your information or even a personalized letter to your child from “Santa.” Never share personal information online with an unverified source.
2. Fake charities - Sadly, many scammers capitalize on the goodwill that flourishes this time of year by asking you to make a donation to a bogus charity. Verify the authenticity of any charity you’d like to make a contribution to by checking it out on a website like CharityNavigator.org.
3. Package theft - Unfortunately, some 23 million customers will have their packages stolen from their doorsteps this year. Don’t be one of them. If possible, arrange for a delivery requiring your signature upon receipt. Otherwise, track your order and know when to look out for it so you can bring it inside as quickly as possible.
4. Bogus sites - Don’t believe ads or websites that are practically giving goods away for free. Once you click an ad link and place an order, you’ll never hear from the site again. Worse yet, the scammers may use the information you shared to empty your accounts. Only shop on reputable sites and always check the URL before placing an order. It may look strikingly similar to a popular site, but if one letter is off or missing completely, the site is bogus. Also, look for that important “s” after the “http” in the web address to verify a site’s security.
5. Fake freebies - If you’re offered any outrageous free gifts this holiday season, whether via text message, email or social media posts, ignore them. You’re looking at a scam, designed to lure you into sharing your information with criminals or unwittingly installing malware on your device.
6. Defunct gift cards - Many scammers sell expired or empty gift cards this time of year. Ask to inspect any gift card you purchase before you finalize the sale. Check to see if the activation code is exposed. If it is, the scammer has likely already used the card or has copied the information and will use it soon.
7. Temporary holiday jobs - During the busy holiday season, many scammers pose as employees of recognized businesses and post help-wanted ads on social media platforms and popular websites. When a potential worker follows the links in these ads, they are directed to a bogus site that looks legit. They’ll then be asked to share personal information in order to submit an application. The scammer will then make off with this information and the promised job will never materialize. If you’re looking for a seasonal job, apply in person or directly on a business’s website. Do not follow any links.
As always, be aware and be cautious when enjoying the holiday season. Don’t get grinched! Stay alert and use caution to keep your money – and your information – safe.