Common Holiday Scams

Common Holiday Scams
Common Holiday Scams

So the holiday season is on us again, and that means we’re busy shopping for gifts and festive treats. Most of us spend more in the run-up to the holidays than we do any other time of year – and, because we have a lot to organize, we’re not always as cautious as we could be. Scammers know all of this, so the holidays are a busy time for them too.
If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’s painfully easy at this time of year to end up losing money to an elaborate con trick. Here are some of the most common scams to be aware of:
Fake websites: Shopping online? Scammers like to imitate the websites of well-known retailers. They’ll take your payment, but you’ll never see your goods. Watch for site names with extra words added – “amazonbooks.com”, for example – and check the web address. Does it start with https://? If it’s just http://, it could be a scam site.
Phony charities: A lot of us like to share at the festive season, and scammers exploit that by creating fake charities to collect donations. Ask charity collectors to show some ID, and if you haven’t heard of a charity before check it on give.org before giving them anything.
e-cards: Sending cards online is convenient, but it’s also a good way to collect personal information or install malicious software. If you get an e-card with no sender’s name or one you don’t recognize, be wary. If you’re asked for personal information to collect the card that’s a huge red flag.
Gift cards: It’s always nice to get something for nothing – but if an email or website pop-up offers you a free gift card, it might not be what it seems. “Offers” like this are used to harvest personal details so a scammer can steal your identity.
Letters from Santa: Several companies send out personalized letters from Santa to promote holiday offers – but scammers use them too. If you receive an online letter offering coupons for a product, especially if that product is a popular toy, think twice before giving any personal information.
Gift cards for soldiers: Talking to an American soldier online? If you are, and he asks you to buy him an iTunes card so he can pay for his internet access, you’re being scammed. Internet for troops on operations is provided by the Army; it doesn’t have to be paid for with iTunes cards. Requests like this are never genuine. If a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan does need an iTunes card he can buy one in the PX.
Fake warnings: When you’re spending money online like you do in the holiday season, you might pay attention to an email or text message warning of suspicious activity on one of your accounts. The trouble is, warnings like this are one of the most common scams. If you get any kind of warning, don’t click on the link in the email. Instead, go straight to the site from your browser. They will alert you to any issue with your account.
Chances good that are you’re on the lookout for scams throughout the year. Just don’t let the holiday excitement tempt you into dropping your guard. If you know the risks, and take normal precautions, you can enjoy the holidays without worrying about being scammed.