Tips to avoid holiday scams

Published 9:26 am Thursday, November 30, 2017

The holidays, particularly the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, are a time when people are spending significant amounts of money. Whether that money is used for gifts or donated to charity, the increase in spending around the holidays opens an enhanced possibility for scams and fraud.

Fraud comes in many forms this time of year, from online shopping setups to stealing gift card information, package delivery scams, e-cards designed to setup viruses and even charity cons.

With all this in mind, gift buyers and donation givers need to be wary of where they are sending or spending their money.

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Here are some tips from the Better Business Bureau to avoid holiday scams:

— Around the holidays, beware of emails pretending to be from businesses like UPS, FedEx or major retailers with links to package tracking information. Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments to emails until you have confirmed that they are not malicious. Some emails can infect your computer with a virus or download malware if you click a link.

— While there are legitimate organizations and businesses that sell letters from Santa, con artists are also in the market to steal credit card information and the personal information of children.

— Scammers create fake websites or online listings claiming to be puppy breeders, luring people in with cute pictures and promises of adopting a healthy puppy. Before the dog can be delivered, the expecting family must pay an adoption fee, shipping costs, insurance, and veterinarian fees via wire transfer. Once the money is sent, the puppy never ends up arriving.

— Don’t let yourself get bogged down in purchases or lose track of your wallet. Know where your credit and debit cards are at all times and cover the keypad when entering your pin number while purchasing items or getting money from an ATM. To steal your credit or debit card information, scammers will install skimming devices at ATMs or put faceplates overpayment terminals so they can access your accounts. Make sure you put your card back in your wallet after each purchase.

— Taking advantage of data breach fears, scammers will call pretending to be retailers asking for personal information to “sort things out.” If you are unsure of a caller’s claims, call the company’s known customer service number directly and ask to speak to the fraud department. Since you called the number, you should be safe to give out personal information if asked.

With Christmas just around the corner, people may be looking ways to give to charity or get a great deal on presents, but there are unsavory people looking to take advantage of generosity or steal your money.

However, if you play it smart, you can avoid some of the most common holiday scams.