It’s that time of the season…when scam artists ramp up their efforts to get you to part with your money. But with smartphone apps and online deal sites found all over, how can you know which sources to trust?
This guide is good practice for any season but keep them in mind as you make your way through the last few months of the year.
Beware of Hot Deals
A $1,500 4k drone for $49.99? Hurry sale ends today!
If it sound too good to be true then it probably is!
– NEVER click on advertisement links!
– Type the address of your favorite vendor into your browser
– Avoid visiting unfamiliar web sites for purchasing “hot” items
– Check the product and vendor reviews carefully for fraud
Any message imploring you to act now should ALWAYS raise red flags. It is too easy to fool even the most critical eye of what is real online allowing scammers to trick you into thinking you’re buying from the real vendor.
Even well known sites like Amazon.com can offer subpar quality products from 3rd party vendors that are looking to make a quick hit.
Online Shopping Safety
Getting your holiday shopping done while sipping a latte in Starbucks? Checking your account balances inside your favorite mall?
Doing so on public wi-fi can get you burnt real bad.
– NEVER use public wi-fi for purchases or checking financial info
– ALWAYS use your credit card (not your debit card) when making online purchases
Your financial information is priceless so letting that data (encrypted or not) travel across a publicly accessible network is very high risk behavior. The reputation of the network administrator and the other users is unknown and you should avoid making transactions at all costs. You are always better off using your cellular network than public wi-fi.
Gift Card Scams
There are too many tricks for grabbing gift card numbers and codes, including rack rip offs, payment ploys and other schemes to ruin your day.
– Purchase gift cards directly from the store they’re for
– Purchase gift cards directly from the cashier
– Ask to have card scanned to verify validity and correct balance
Package Delivery Scams
Got an email for a package delivery you don’t recall making? Watch out!
The convenience of shopping online cannot be beat but it may result in packages arriving from multiple retailers. Scammers will send phishing emails that look like they’re from FedEx or UPS or even the USPS asking you to click a link to track your package. They may even ask you to sign in to phony sign-in pages asking for your personal information.
– NEVER click on links!
– Keep track of which packages you asked to track vs not
– Keep track of which service will deliver your ordered package
– If you see an email asking you to login to update where to deliver your package, type the web address into your browser yourself and seek out what notices you may have from them.
The toughest of all. When the season is about giving there is a great deal of emotion involved. This is of course a wonderful experience but there are folks out there who will stoop low enough to scam you into a “donation” for their charity…which turns out to be their own wallet.
– NEVER click on links!
– Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, emails or text messages asking for donations
– Confirm exactly where you money will go (the people in need vs administration fees)
– Confirm the organization’s reputation using CharityNavigator.org or even Give.org
– Consider donating your time instead of your money to a cause close to your heart
Remember, constant vigilance is the price for freedom!