Nothing can ruin your holidays more quickly than being caught in a scam. Whether an online breach, traveling accommodations, charity con or something else, criminals use the holidays to try to take advantage of as many people as possible. Avoid getting your holidays ruined; use caution, and look out for these common scams during this joyful time.
Look-alike websites: It may look like you’re getting a good deal, but try to only use legitimate websites when shopping online. Avoid URLs that use the names of well-known brands along with added words.
Fake charities: Criminals will try to take advantage of your giving spirit during the holidays. They will often fake charity solicitations in email, on social media sites, crowdfunding sites, and even by text. Verify the validity of a charity at www.give.org before donating.
Unusual forms of payment: If someone asks you to pay for your holiday purchases using prepaid debit cards, wire transfers, third parties, etc., be wary. These payments cannot be traced and cannot be undone. Use a credit card on a secure website; look for https in the address (the extra “s” is for “secure”) and the lock symbol.
Rental home companies: Booking a house with the family for the holidays has become very popular, but take precautions to ensure you’re not reserving a home that is not available. It is recommended to call the phone number on an ad, and ask specific questions about your booking. If a person cannot give you details or it makes you uncomfortable, it’s most likely a scam.
Free gift cards or gifts: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Pop-up ads or emails offering free gift cards are just a ploy to get you to give scammers personal information about yourself.
Grandparents scam: This one is prevalent all year long, but may happen more during this holiday season. Seniors should be cautious of getting phone calls from a “grandchild” in an accident or in trouble, asking for money. Never send money unless you can confirm with another family member that it’s true.
Scams can put a damper on your holiday spirit, but with a little foresight and caution, you can save yourself the trouble and enjoy this month with loved ones. W