How to avoid scams this holiday season

Avoiding scams this holiday season

It’s that time of the year again; the holidays have snug up on us again! While everyone is out shopping and spreading goodwill you must be observant of criminals because as this is the perfect time to scam people when they are desperate to help and looking for deals on hot ticketed items.

1. Social Media Scams – One must be careful when clicking on ads, links, and pages on social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Scammers love to create false information and create fake Facebook apps and giveaways we unknowingly enter because we think we can trust ads we see online especially on Facebook. You should never install an app you don’t trust or seems “fishy”. If it is a website you never heard of or a company that seems legit makes sure you check It out before you enter any information.

2. Mobile apps – We all use apps on our smartphones and tablets and we download them with the trust that they are legitimate offers because they are available in the app store. They can send out offers via text message without you even knowing to all your contacts to scam more people.

3. Travel scams – Planning on traveling during the holiday season? Make sure the website you’re using is a legitimate website there are thousands of websites out there that say they will offer you a package deal at a rock bottom price. While travel deals do exist primarily to websites like Living Social and Groupon you must be careful legitimate websites will never ask for a social security number. If you are ever suspicious of a website you can always look up a whois of the website and find out where the company is located contact numbers and check to see if they are actual addresses.

4. Spam e-mails – As the holiday season approaches scammers get crafty “offering” expensive items for cheap. If it looks like an email from a person or “friend” and it seems funny do NOT click on the link! No one will ever sell a new iPad for $50!

5. Apple devices, computers and other hot ticketed items – Scammers LOVE these things it’s easy to bait and the customers come flying it. These will come with dangerous links directing you to complete some “offer”, enter your e-mail or install malware or spyware software onto your computer and instantly track all your keystrokes and know when you enter your credit card information. NEVER open links in e-mails you don’t trust.

6. Skype Messages – Skype users can be easily infected with tracking devices and steal computer files through messages on this messaging service.

7. Fake Gift Cards – Ever notice how many gift card websites there are out there? When buying gift cards stick to legitimate retailers such as Walmart, Target and etc do not purchase it from a third party website or a website allowing you to purchase 50 high dollars for way less than face value.

8. SMishing – Smishing is just like phishing on the computer. It’s where you get a text message from someone claiming you won a prize and to please contact them about receiving it. NO one will EVER contact you via text message if you really won a prize. (I have personally gotten a few of these and so has my mom)

9. Fake e-tailers – Fake e-commerce sites that ask you to “re-verify” your information or enter your information to sign up.

10. Fake charities – This is one of the biggest scams of the season because we are doing our “good will towards man” and giving back to those who need it the most. These usually come in the form of e-mails.

11. E-cards – Those holiday e-cards are way cheaper to send to family and friends but can also be dangerous! Some can contain spyware and unknowingly track you in order to steal your information.

12. Fake ads – Online ad websites such as Craigslist and eBay and be a great way to find deals on thousands of items all year long it can also be one of the worst ways to get scammed. Never wire funds via Western Union.

You can protect your identity and money by first and foremost installing security software onto your computer use a “Security Suite” such as McAfee or Norton. These will offer you a wide range of coverage from anti-virus to spyware. I personally use McAfee, and I always get protection from virus, tracking cookies, malware, spyware, as well as protection in my e-mail and my identity there are more options as well.

When using social media you should be warned that not everyone can be trusted anyone could pay for an ad to be posted or a deal. I remember hearing about everyone’s uproar when Facebook launched a deal/offer where people were getting scammed and fake offers. Remember that $500 Costco Gift Card Card scam? Don’t install apps and make sure you know what they can access. You CAN change the access at ANY time! Bloggers will NEVER ask you to download an app! Keep an eye out for suspicious e-mails and never open links in e-mails from people you don’t know this goes to text messages too. When shopping online visit websites you trust and when you’re donating do it in person or through a website you know you can trust.

Watch out for fake listings and overpriced items selling on e-bay and Craigslist, like the great twinkie drama people are trying to make a quick profit off of anything. If you’re purchasing an electronic online make sure it is a company you can trust and if it’s a person make sure you check out the item in person and ALWAYS pay cash with local deals. NEVER send money via Western Union once it reaches WU it’s virtually untraceable this goes with using PayPal as well don’t ever use PayPal with a website you don’t trust and AVOID at all cost shippers from China and foreign item these are more than likely cheap knockoffs.

I will say although I am savvy shopper I have been scammed, I purchased something through a website using PayPal and thought it was safe. I was wrong I got scammed and not only lost my money, never got what I purchased and the seller did a good job of faking the weight and dimensions although I did get some Chinese coins wonder if they are worth something! I called PayPal and there was nothing they could do about getting my money back. 🙁 Boo! Watch for people who want cash for a gift card, they may approach you in store. (It has happened to me several times)

How can I protect myself, my money and my identity during the holidays?

*Install a security software on your must used devices
*NEVER use website you don’t know or trust
*NEVER click links from senders you don’t know from e-mails to social media
*Ignore fake texts of “winning” a prize
*NEVER use Western Union as a payment method
*When making donations donate in person or through legitimate websites
*When using Craigslist meet in person in a public area and deal in cash
*Watch for people offering you gift cards in stores for the cash.
*Use only trusted e-bay sellers when shopping on e-bay
*Frequently check your credit and bank accounts for fraudulent charges they start small so you wouldn’t notice!

Source:
1. http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2012/11/mcafee-warns-consumers-of-the-12-scams-of-christmas.html

Do you have any other tips to protect your assets during the holidays? Leave your tips below! Have you ever been a victim of a scam? What did you do to protect yourself and do to prevent it from happening again? Feel free to share it happens to everyone at some point.

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