Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Watch Out! Scams That Come Out For the Holidays

Gift Cards
Gift Cards (Photo credit: PersonalMoneyNetwork)
The holidays are an expensive time when people spend large amounts of money on their families, friends, or themselves. It is often helpful to find deals and discounts that save money. Buyers must beware, however, for the ever-present scammers and swindlers who will try and separate consumers from their money. Some scams are always around, but some come out just for the holidays.

The Charity Scam


Over half of American adults give to some sort of charity during the holidays, and criminals know that. Most of the charity scams are accomplished over the telephone in the form of cold calls. Scammers will call your phone, and state they are representing some sort of charity. They will say all the right things, and have all the right information; however they will not be affiliated with any charity. Eventually they will ask for your personal information, to include your banking or credit card information, and take you for as much money as they can.

Special attention should be paid to charities claiming to represent emergency services workers such as police, fire, and veteran's groups. Often, scammers will claim to represent these groups in an effort to garner additional sympathy from you. Even if the name of the charity they are using is legitimate, the callers may not be. If you feel like donating, contact the charity directly instead of responding to a received phone call.

Cybersquatting


This type of scam is more high-tech, but even more dangerous. These days, consumers complete a fair portion of their shopping online. When done correctly, you can receive discounts and additional savings by shopping online. When searching for cheaper prices online, look-a-like websites are set up to fool you into buying from them instead of the legit site. Make sure the online coupons you run across have details that distinguish it from others like it that are scams.

Often, the website itself will be an exact replica of the proper site, with the only clue to the scam residing in the address bar. The website will be slightly altered in some way, and if the link has been clicked from a search results page, it is very easy to inadvertently put in your credit card information into the fake site.

Fake Gift Cards


In recent years with the explosion of gift card sales, retailers have set up in-store displays of all kinds of cards. In most cases, you can buy more types of gift cards than the average store brand. It is not uncommon to happen upon a rack in a department store with many different gift cards, from restaurants to online retailers. It turns out that scammers have targeted these cards with frightening results.

Using a handheld scanner or by simply peeling off the sticker on the back, thieves copy the gift card information and place the cards back on the rack. They simply lie in wait for the cards to be purchased, and once they discover the card has been bought and activated, they use the pilfered card information online before you even get a chance to use it. Instead, you should buy the gift cards directly from the retailer’s website or at an attended customer service counter.

Scams have always been around, and the tactics will continue to change. It’s important to remain abreast of new techniques and ways to protect yourself and your money.



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