You may have read about holiday scams on Facebook or seen them on the news. Protect your seasonal joy with awareness! Here are 10 ways that crooks may try to steal your cheer.
Fake $100 Bill
Apparently, this was first identified in Maryland and has spread to other states’ mall parking lots. Law enforcement officials say that finding a $100 bill tucked under your wiper blade may distract an unsuspecting shopper. There is likely a carjacker or thief nearby watching for you to put down your purse, leave your car door open, or just be careless. This has been reported, along with the stolen cars, etc.
The International Business Times warns us to beware of fake websites and fake apps, which are created to target people who shop from their phones. Even apps marked with an Amazon or eBay logo may be false; dangerous links, bogus gift cards, and phony contests on social media allow scammers to access and steal your personal information. Stick to reputable online sources for shopping.
Don’t trust promotional emails as you hustle to complete shopping. Treat all such email as bogus even if they appear to be from a trusted retailer. If you open the email, do not click on any links. Go directly to the retailer’s site.
Gift Card Scams
The Better Business Bureau warns that thieves copy the numbers off gift cards in stores and then check online or call the 1-800 number to see if the card has been activated. Once activated, thieves can spend the card’s money online, leaving nothing for the actual recipient. Never buy discounted gift cards online; your cash will be gone, and the card will be empty.
Holiday Travel Scams
Unfortunately, the internet enables fake online travel deal links to give crooks your personal data. Also, if you do travel, don’t use a possibly infected computer at your destination to access your information.
Parking Lot Peril
Sadly, another parking lot crooks’ tactic has a suspect yelling for help; they have seen you away from the crowd and wait for you to approach to lend a hand. You or your money are the intended targets. Call 911 for help from a distance. Also, if someone taps your bumper with their car, you are at risk when you get out to check the damage; an accomplice may jump in and drive away with your vehicle.
Credit vs Debit Card
Credit cards have more security than debit cards. You are more likely to replace stolen money if you use credit. If your card is stolen or compromised, thieves have access to your entire account with a debit card.
Too Good to be True
Any deal that sounds too good to be true probably is. This season, the “too good” deal seems to be scammers who offer to repair a ding or dent in your vehicle right there in the parking lot or nearby. The estimate will seem low, but once the work is done, you may find you have peeling paint or other quality issues. The scammer is either nowhere to be found, or worse yet, need lots more money to “fix” the problem.
Police departments tell us that some criminals follow delivery trucks to see where they leave packages on front porches or doorsteps. To avoid this, require a signature for packages, designate a trusted neighbor to accept it, or have the package held at a delivery company’s service location for pick up.