Woman shopping online with a tablet and a credit card at Christmas

The holiday season is upon us. For some of us, that means copious amounts of food and extra time with friends and family. It’s not all gravy, though. In fact, this time of year also brings out something most of us can agree we dislike: holiday scams.

Scams are all around us. Unfortunately, during the holiday season, they tend to get even worse. While you’re working your tail off to earn a paycheck, scam artists are working to steal your identity and your money. With a little caution, though, you can ensure your holiday festivities don’t come to a screeching halt. Check out these tips.

Online Deals

It’s no secret that there are great deals to be had. However, if it seems too good to be true, there’s a good chance it is. Do you think you’re going to get a free 50-inch TV with a $50 purchase? Probably not. Use your instincts. Pay extra attention to the links you click on. It’s not difficult for scammers to change a URL by a letter or two and take you to a look-a-like website.

Fake Gift Cards

If you’re active on social media, you’ve probably came across a fake gift card post. A common example is a post offering the first 20,000 people who “like” a page on Facebook a $500 gift card to a large retail store, like Target. Once you’re on the page, you’re asked to provide personal information, such as your Social Security number. Once you submit this information, cyber criminals have all they need to start opening accounts in your name. It’s highly unlikely that a company will give out large sums of money just for “liking” or sharing a social media post or page.

Monitor Your Bank Accounts

You should already do this regularly, but it’s even more important at this time of year. If any suspicious charges appear on your accounts, contact your bank immediately. The earlier you catch these charges, the less of a hassle it’ll be for you.

Surveys

Most of us would love a little extra cash to spend on gifts or vacations. Scammers know this is especially true during the holidays, and they take full advantage. At one time or another, you may have received an email asking you to take a survey in order to receive some type of financial reward for your time. While there are legitimate websites out there that will pay for your services, there are also many scam websites. At the end of the survey, you may be asked for private information, such as your checking account number. Don’t give it! Make sure you verify the website isn’t a scam. Look for online reviews of the company. If there’s a phone number, call it. Take the extra steps to ensure your information is secure. 

Wi-Fi

When you’re out in public, you’ve got to be extremely cautious using Wi-Fi. If you’re shopping in a store or eating at a restaurant and want to use their Wi-Fi, make sure you connect to it. Beware of look-a-like Wi-Fi connections that hackers create. Once you connect to one of their connections, the hacker’s got all they need to get private information you have stored on your mobile device.

Charities

Many people like to give back by donating to charity. Unfortunately, scammers will create fake charities with names similar to real ones. If you donate your money, make sure you’re giving to the organization you intended to give to. If you receive phone calls from people claiming to be from a particular charity, don’t instantly give money away. Do some background research to ensure it’s a legitimate charity and that the people you’re talking to are actually associated with it.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to keeping your identity secure. What other tips do you have for avoiding holiday scams? Let us know in the comments below!

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