The holidays should be a time of merriment and goodwill, but unfortunately they are also a prime time of year for criminals. With the increase of shopping trips, credit card use, and online purchases many people will fall prey to scams.
The best way to avoid a scam is to know about it an advance. Here are five of the most common scams for holiday shoppers to watch out for.
1. Identity theft. If you’re purchasing items online, over the phone, or in stores you could be at risk for identity theft. This scam works when information from your mail or email is taken and used to create a secondary identity. You should never share personal information on websites or over the phone unless you initiated the transaction and are sure the website you’re buying from is secure.
2. Fake charities. This is a very popular scam during the holidays. A criminal will set up a fake charity, ask for donations, and then pocket all the money. To make sure you’re money is going to the right place ask questions. Find out how long a charity has been operating and stick with charities that are well-known and have a good reputation.
3. Free Vacation scams. Everyone wants to win a free vacation, airline ticket, or hotel room especially around the holidays. But beware of scams. If the offer is too good to be true do your homework. Never pay cash up front for any type of prize, and always purchase tickets and hotel reservations from a reputable company.
4. Ticket scams. Many people purchase tickets to events and concerts during the holidays. If you’re not careful you could end up buying a ticket from a fake company. You pay money for the ticket but it turns out to be invalid. Only purchase tickets from trusted sources, and avoid buying through classified websites such as Craigslist.
5. Ebay scams. With all the online purchasing during the holidays it can be easy to fall for an Ebay or Paypal scam. The scammers will send emails out pretending to be from Paypal or Ebay offering low rates or free items. Once you give out your information or credit card number they will steal it. Never enter your personal information in an email. If you receive an email from one of these places, go to directly the site and log into your account without clicking on any email links. This will insure privacy and safety.
If you think you’ve been scammed, here are some tips for reporting the scammer and protecting your credit.
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