While the holiday season should be a time for celebration, crooks see it as another opportunity to take your money – or worse, your identity. While many of these scams are used throughout the year, thieves often come up with new variations to catch you off guard, so they can steal from you during this busy shopping season.
Here are 7 seasonal scams you should watch out for:
Internet holiday scams. Bogus websites offering the latest electronics, popular gifts and luxury items at unbelievable prices are big this year. If you fall victim, you probably won’t get the item your ordered or it’ll be of inferior quality. Then scammers will use your credit card number to buy things for themselves and/or take your personal information to create fraudulent accounts. So, only shop at company websites you trust. Legitimate companies will have a physical address and working phone number listed on their website. Check out the company with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) before you buy. Make sure the website checkout is secure and contains “https://” in the domain name.
- Online auction or classified advertising website scams. Once popular items have sold out in the stores, you can often find them online at sites like eBay or Craigslist – often for a much higher price. Unfortunately, unscrupulous people will take your money and send you nothing in return. Therefore, never purchase anything online with wire transfers or money orders. Also, only shop Craigslist locally and conduct all transactions in person.
- Pickpockets at the mall. Thieves wait until you’re distracted to swipe your purse or wallet containing your money, identification and credit cards. Carry your purse across your body or your wallet in a front pocket. Leave all non-essential identification and spare credit cards at home.
- Bait-and-switch operators. Scammers love to approach people at the mall or on the street with electronics, jewelry or other gifts at drastically reduced prices. They may even let you examine the item. But what you get is of cheaper quality with no way to return it. So, never buy from someone who approaches you in a parking lot. Beware of temporary stores or booths that disappear after the holidays. Only buy items from known retailers.
- Cash register scams. Cash registers can be a busy place during the holidays. Make sure: a) you’re not short-changed, either intentionally or unintentionally; b) the cashier returns your credit/debit card; c) the cashier doesn’t copy your credit card number for later use; and d) the cashier places all your items in the bags.
- “Parcel-waiting” scams. Be aware of any notifications posted on your door saying an unsuccessful attempt was made to deliver a package to your home – especially if it directs you to call a phone number for more details. If you call the number, you may be charged exorbitant rates on your next phone bill. For this reason, check out the company online and verify that the phone number isn’t a premium or overseas number before calling. Only call local or 1-800 numbers. Never give any personal information over the phone to strangers, and never tell them when you’re not going to be home.
- Charity-related holiday scams. Unfortunately, con artists can take advantage of your holiday goodwill by posing as fake charities or giving you a “hard luck” story. Research the charity with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance before you give. If you don’t have time to check them out, then don’t give. Avoid all telephone or email solicitations. Only give to charities you know. Never make large donations in cash and always ask for a receipt. And never give out any personal or financial information to strangers.
By taking these precautions, you can prevent thieves from stealing your money and/or identity, so you can have a happy holiday season.
At Grandview Lending, we don’t want to see you victimized by holiday scams that can destroy your credit rating and your sense of security. Maintaining a good credit rating is vital if you plan to obtain a home loan in the future. The specialists at Grandview Lending are here to help you with all your loan needs when you’re ready.