Protecting Yourself Against Holiday Scams

Protecting Yourself  Against Holiday Scams

Be on the lookout! If you are getting an early start on your holiday shopping, rest assured that scammers and thieves are as well. As holiday shopping ramps up, fraudsters have more opportunities to dish out holiday scams. We have put together these tips to help protect you from online shopping, charity, and personal finance scams this season.

If It Looks Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is! | This season, Black Friday promotions and sales are being offered throughout November. Be careful of web or social media based advertisements offering name-brands at deep discounts. Some of these discounts and offers may be linked to fraudulent retailers. The Better Business Bureau reports that consumers who purchase from these sites often do not receive the items they paid for OR receive counterfeit versions of the product(s) ordered. In addition, these sites now have access to your personal and/or credit information. 

Exercise Caution on Auction & Marketplace Sites | These sites are rife with scams and counterfeit items for quick sale. Do your due diligence by checking reviews and ratings prior to any purchase. Research specific sellers, avoid new sellers, and those with poor ratings. 

DO NOT Click Links in Unknown Texts & Emails | Scammers often send text messages and emails that appear to be from a legitimate credit company, bank, social networking site, online store, or online payment site. This is known as phishing. It is safer to bypass an email containing a link, scam links go to suspect websites or download harmful malware onto your computer. To check the site out, open a new browser window and type the URL of the link into it, rather than using the link. Check email addresses, even if the email looks legitimate, you can spot suspicious return email addresses pretty easily. 

Only Shop on Secure Websites | An easy way to check is to look for a small ‘lock’ icon to the left of the website address/URL, and make sure the URL begins with ‘https’, not just ‘http’. Avoid public wifi connections when banking and shopping online. If you need to make a purchase when away from your home, it is best to use your service provider’s data network.

Finally, check that the website looks legitimate. 

Make Your Donations Count | Charitable giving is a wonderful way to spread cheer during the holiday season. Unfortunately social media is full of charity and crowdfunding scams. Fraudsters set up fake GoFundMe accounts and tug at your heartstrings in order to procure donations. It is important to be aware that you cannot equate this trusted platform with the legitimacy of some of its users. This type of patron platform does not vet each cause. If you are looking to assist those in need, first verify the cause, person, or organization is legitimate. Remember, you can always find organizations where you can donate your time!

Grammar & Spelling Matter | Simply stated, professional websites use professional writers. Look for misspellings, bad grammar, and lack of contact information or company’s location.

Secure Your Payments | Avoid sites and sellers that require unusual payment methods like wire transfers, gift cards, prepaid cards, and cashier’s checks. These payment methods are nearly impossible to recover. Popular payment apps like Venmo and Zelle do not offer fraud protection. Some of these apps are linked directly to your bank account, and when the payment is sent, the funds leave your account for good. Check if your bank offers fraud protection. PayPal offers fraud protection, and offers fast and easy financial transactions without using your credit card information. 

If Fraud Happens to You | Contact your bank if you suspect fraud. You can alert them and see if they can help recover your funds. Customer service representatives can cancel credit and ATM cards and protect your account from further fraudulent charges. You may also consider contacting your local law enforcement agency 

We wish you safe and happy holiday shopping. If your future shopping includes a new home, we invite you to contact one of our Military Relocation Specialists today.

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