“You better not pout, you better not cry, you better watch out, I’m tellin’ you why…Scam-A-Claus is coming to town!”
With apologies to a beloved Christmas song, that’s the tune to keep in mind this time of year.
It’s hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is almost here, and with it, the holiday shopping season. Where there’s people and money, you can bet the scammers will be trying to rip people off. Don’t let them pull a fast one on you!
Here are several scams to watch out for as you begin your Christmas/holiday shopping:
1. Gift card scams—Crooks can steal the codes from the backs of cards and then enter them at the store’s website to make online purchases. When the person who receives the card tries to use it, they find the money is gone. What to do? Don’t buy gift cards from those big racks in stores, and if you do, check the card to be sure the packaging and covering over the code are untouched.
2. Data breaches—Last year I got caught in the Target data breach, and earlier this year my credit union sent me a new card again because of the problem at Home Depot. There’s not much any one person can do about companies’ failures to provide secure systems, so your best protection is to always use your credit card rather than your debit card, and check your accounts regularly for small and/or unknown charges.
3. Phony refunds—Scammers send out emails that look like they come from a real business (such as Amazon) saying the recipient is due a refund. If you click on the link in the email it either takes you to a bogus website out to steal your personal information or it downloads malware to your computer. REMEMBER: NEVER CLICK ON A LINK IN AN UNSOLICITED EMAIL. Other variations on this scam include fake airline confirmations and package delivery notices.
It’s always a good idea to practice positive vigilance for scams, and never more so than at this time of year. If you have a question or are not sure about something, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do my best to answer right away. In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving, and may you have more than ever to be thankful for this year!