Tricky Holiday Scams to Avoid

Charity Scam

The holidays bring out the worst in thieves, planning the right moment and the right situation to steal your money. The following four alerts will help you avoid holiday scams this shopping season.

 

 

 

1: Steer clear of charity scams. Charity scams are the number one scams this time of year, according to the Better Business Bureau. Some of the most popular scams around the holidays involves war veteran groups.

Scammers are playing on generosity people feel when they see uniformed soldiers. “It can be a very effective ploy,” says Art Taylor of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.

Another popular scam around the holidays is police or fire fighting charities. People want the chance to give to their local heroes, says Taylor. But most of the money you donate will go right to telemarketers.

To protect yourself, don’t donate to a charity that solicits door-to-door, over the phone or by e-mail. “That’s not the way legitimate charities do business,” says Taylor.

Instead, you should receive a letter and also look for the Better Business Bureau seal of approval. You’ll also want to go to http://www.give.org/ or charitynavigator.org which evaluates the financial status of organizations.

2: Don’t re-enter your information. Nearly 61 million people prefer shopping over the internet rather than crowding the malls this holiday season. This might save shoppers time, but it could also cost them a lot as scam artists sit their, waiting to swipe personal information.If you’ve placed an order at an e-tailer like Amazon.com (AMZN (Charts)) or Walmart.com (WMT (Charts)), there’s a chance you could get an e-mail stating there has been a problem with the order and you need to re-enter your credit card number, says Ed Dworsky of Consumerworld.org. But don’t do it.”No legitimate Internet seller will have you go online to re-enter your information,” he says. Instead, you should call the e-tailer itself, or check your order status on the e-tailers’ Web site.

3: Screen your holiday greetings. Sending holiday greetings via em-mail, Cyber thieves are snatching at the opportunity to send out their own e-greeting.

These e-mails look like they are sent by a friend or family member, but it’s really a scam artist intent on getting your Social Security number or your credit card information. It’s really just a new play on the old phishing scam.

And if you’re listed on social networking sites, like facebook.com or myspace.com, you may also receive e-mail messages that use the information that’s posted to lure you into revealing personal data.

Your best defense is not to open any e-mail from people you don’t know. Don’t reveal any information…ever.

Gift Card Scam4: Beware new gift card scam.  Shoppers will spend an estimated $25 billion on gift cards this year, leading to more gift card scams.

Scam artists are stealing money from gift cards before you get to use it. The Better Business Bureau says this has become an issue over the past 2 months. Here’s how it works:

Thieves copy down the activation number on the back of the gift card. They wait a few days for you to buy the card and activate it. They can then use the numbers they’ve jotted down to go on a spending spree…online.

Protect yourself by only buying gift cards that have scratch off PIN numbers or the PIN number is behind a peel. You may also want to purchase gift cards that are behind the cashiers’ counter.

As always, keep your receipt. If you become a victim of this scam, you may be able to reclaim some of the money.

Now, we want to hear your thoughts. Please leave your comment or question in the space provided below and share this newsletter with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter. Your comments or question could be chosen as our featured Money Question Monday and a phone call by financial expert Heather Wagenhals could dial your way to be live on the Unlock Your Wealth Radio Show….

 

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