A little education can go a long way when it comes to avoiding scams. If you just know what to look out for, you can avoid a lot of holiday related scams. And you may be able to avoid even being targeted by scammers. They usually prey on the unsuspecting. If you read this post, you won’t be so unsuspecting anymore.
Here are some of the top scams to watch out for this holiday season:
Package Delivery Trick – Say you aren’t there to get your package, and you get a note telling you to call a number and make arrangements for pick up. You call the number and sit on hold, possibly listening to Christmas music, for several minutes before you hang up. Then you get a several hundred dollar charge on your next phone bill for calling some premium pay line in Singapore or China.
Double check the names of companies and their phone numbers before you call. If the phone number is not local, or starts with something other than 800, 888, 877, 866, 855 or 844 (the FCC’s designated toll free numbers), don’t call it. It is probably a scam.
Internet Shopping Scams – If you see a website offering prices that look too good to be true, they probably are. It is easy to set up very professional looking websites with pictures, logos and testimonials that lead you to think it is a legitimate online store. If you give them your credit card information, you will lose your money but never see the item! You should only buy from a name you know and trust, and you should look up information for any on line store you haven’t heard of before. If they are legitimate, there will be other online references to them.
Often, the number one give away here is the price of the item. These scammer websites aren’t trying to quote a reasonable price. They want you to think you saved a bundle and found the best deal out there. So their prices are very low – almost absurdly so. Beware of unbelievable deals!
Pickpockets – An oldy but a goody! Just a little bump in all the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, or a distraction from an associate, can mean you later find out you lost your wallet, keys, or cell phone. By then, the perps will be long gone. They could also lift items right out of your shopping bags.
Keep your purse closed, and keep your hand on it. Keep your wallet in a closed compartment or in a front pocket – not a more easily accessible back pocket. Return to your car when you get too many bags. Store them in the trunk or out of sight. And if some stranger asks for your attention, watch for your valuables first before talking to them. Grab your bags and purse close if you think somebody is distracting you.
Shortchanging – Check your change at the register before you leave. It is easier to get shortchanged by an unscrupulous checkout clerk if there is a long line and everyone is impatient. Have a good idea of the total price you will pay so you can be alert if they ring up the bill too high. If you pay with a larger bill, be sure they don’t give you the wrong change with too many smaller bills. Be very wary if they say you paid with a smaller bill than you had in your hand. Some cashiers use sleight of hand to play that trick. Paying with credit card is often better than cash in these situations.
Package Theft – This is the time of the year to get packages on your doorstep. There are documented cases where thieves followed a delivery truck into a neighborhood and took packages right off people front stoops. It is far better to have a place for packages that is out of sight, although we know this can be tricky. Most delivery companies send email confirmations and let you track your package. Do that to be sure you can quickly report a theft if it occurs, and get a replacement.
Ticket Forgers – Want to see a show this holiday season? So do a lot of people. And ticket forgers are more prominent now because of it. Be very careful of bogus tickets. Buy from a reputable source. Check out the source on line for other references or reviews. Just like with bogus shopping websites, the giveaway is often the absurdly low price. Be very careful of super low bargain prices on any live show or event. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Conclusion – We cannot list every holiday scam out there. This post would never end! We hope that by opening your eyes we have made your holiday a little safer, a little less prone to scams, and therefore a little more happy.