The mad holiday rush may be over, but scammers aren’t slowing down. Protect yourself from these five common holiday scams that happen this time of year:
If you’re the recipient of an expensive gift, you may be targeted by thieves who are looking for a good picking. Protect yourself by keeping your gift under wraps. Dismantle all packaging that your gift came in. Discard it in a covered trash can or recycling bin instead of leaving it at the curb.
2.) Charity scams
Be wary when giving to charity this time of year. Don’t donate to any organization without first checking it out. You can use a vetting website like CharityNavigator.com. If you have a favorite cause, contact them yourself instead of clicking on an ad that appears to represent them.
3.) Underpriced gifts for sale
Be suspicious of private sellers offering gift items at crazy-low prices; they are likely to be scams. If a sale item appears legit, proceed with caution. Don’t rely on email communication. Instead, get the seller’s phone number and street address. If possible, ask for references and pictures of the item. If everything checks out, arrange to meet the seller in a well-lit, populated area. Finally, never wire money online—let the cash and item change hands at the same time.
4.) Belated holiday e-cards
Too often, e-cards are ridden with malware. The e-card may bear the name of your friend, but scammers can easily pick names off the internet. All authentic e-cards will include a confirmation code for you to copy and paste at the issuing website.
5.) Post-holiday ‘sales’
Your social media platforms may be exploding with ads offering deeply discounted prices at your favorite stores. While some of these ads may be legit, a lot of them are holiday scams. Here’s how to spot the fake ads:
- The URL is off by one letter. Check each landing page as you make a purchase.
- The site is not secure. Look for the “s” after the “http.”
- The words “deals” or “discounts” are part of the URL. Authentic retailers rarely create new websites just to move sale items.
- Look for the seller’s genuine store logo on every landing page.