As we enter the holiday season, it pays to be vigilant to avoid scams or slip-ups that could put a damper on your celebrations. Here are some ways to keep your holidays happy.
Beware of deals. Be wary of those too-good-to-be-true deals, especially those that show up as links on your social media feeds. Check out reviews, search the retailer’s name with “scam” to see what comes up, and if it’s a retailer you already know and frequent online, go directly to the website rather than clicking on a link.
Buying gift cards? Consider this. Thieves can hit store gift card racks, secretly write down or scan the numbers off the cards, then check online or call the toll-free number to see if someone has bought the cards and activated them. As soon as a card is active, the scammers drain the funds. By the time your gift recipient tries to use the card, the money is long gone. Safely purchase gift cards directly from the store clerk – and ask them to scan the card to make sure it has the correct value.
Keep the debit card in your wallet. Consumer protection experts recommend the use of credit cards rather than debit cards for most purchases, to protect from fraud and theft. With credit cards, you are liable for only up to $50 of fraudulent use. In the case of a lost or stolen debit card, your financial loss could be much higher.
Sign for those package deliveries. Package delivery companies are not responsible for stolen packages left at your front door without requiring a delivery signature. And watch out for phishing scams claiming to be from UPS, FedEx and the US Postal Service asking you to click a link to solve a delivery issue.
Be mindful when applying for temporary holiday jobs. Bogus online job applications for holiday help ask for personally identifiable information, especially your Social Security number. Don’t share your number with anyone unless you absolutely have to, and never provide it until you confirm you are dealing with a real organization looking for employees.
Is that really a holiday e-card? Fake e-cards can carry malicious software or contain unwanted advertising. Clues of a fake card include not knowing the sender, not being familiar with the e-card company, and misspellings.
For more tips on what to watch for this holiday season, visit www.aarp.org/holidayscams.
When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams.