Don’t let scammers ruin your holidays

Fraud during the holiday season is very much alive and well. Scammers are working overtime to separate you from your monies. Almost all of our activities today can have some sort of scam involved.

We are not well informed and alert to the deception that takes place with these con artists. The following are some of the most used scams during this season to look out for:

1Internet and online fraud. It is estimated that e-commerce will top $1.6 trillion in 2015 and have an increase of 38 percent in 2017, for $2.2 trillion, according to a recent edition of Melissa Data Magazine. For each dollar lost with legitimate public retailers they expend some $3.10 trying to correct things with the public. It accounts for 0.9 percent of revenue that is lost by retailers. You can easily see how retail prices can increase due to this profit reduction. The Internet is viewed by people around the world, and many are earning a living with deception from the non-suspecting public.

2Charity scams are extremely active in December due to the holiday spirit of giving. Before making any charitable donation, verify each organization through or the Better Business Bureau. Also keep in mind that any charity can post marketing costs as high as they choose which means very little if any ends up in the charity’s treasury. It is best to know who you are donating to, and what percent ends up with the charity. Many charities farm out their funding programs to outside firms.

3 Gift card scams start with the cards in racks with many others in big box stores, grocery stores and others are not as secure as the purchase of the card from the very retailer they represent. Thieves can scan the cards for the numbers, call in to the toll-free number to see if it has been activated, and if so proceed to collect the cash. It is always best, with the purchase of the gift card, to activate it and obtain a receipt of purchase which you may need later to resolve any issues.

4Public Wi-Fi has become very popular for cellphone, laptop and tablet use. Using this convenience can be very risky if you are viewing personal financial information such as banking accounts, credit card purchases and the like. Any of this information can be intercepted by scammers who will gain much private information that will reduce your funds. Public Wi-Fi is not at all safe when working with personal financial information.

5Package delivery to your home when you may not be there is very appealing to thieves who roam neighborhoods to steal those packages. Keep in mind the shipper has no additional responsibility as it pertains to theft of those unattended packages left at your doorstep. With the rapid growth of online shopping, this is becoming a real issue. Consider requiring a signature for delivery; shipping to your work location; or shipping to a friend or relative that will most likely be at their home when the package is delivered.

6The use of debit cards in place of credit cards is growing very fast; however, consumer protection with use of debit cards is weaker than with credit cards. With lost or stolen credit cards most companies limit the liability to the owner of the card to $50 where a debit card, in the same situation, can create a great deal more financial impact for the owner of the card. Many newly issued credit cards now are encrypted with a chip that offers an additional level of security. It has taken some time for this to happen in this country as it has been part of credit card companies overseas for some time.

Research has shown that when consumers are under a great deal of stress, when making purchases, whether it be due to health, loneliness or financial difficulties they are less able to spot and avoid scams.