Consumer scams to watch out for this holiday season
Just when you thought it was safe to go shopping! The volume of holiday sales are expected to reach $655.8B (National Retail Foundation), and that means there are more opportunities than ever for scam artists to take your hard-earned cash.
Here are 5 scams you need to know about.
1.) Sites that take your order but never ship it.
Shoppers being targeted: Consumers looking for hard-to-get presents, such as rare books, t-shirts, records, or that “too good to be true” cookware set.
What these sites look like: Surprisingly legit, but are based out of China, Eastern Europe, or Africa. They have few reviews, possible misspelling of words, and unusual sentence structures.
How you can avoid this scam: The bottom line is to avoid placing orders on sites that are not well established or that you are not familiar with. Be particularly leery of overseas vendors, who can largely get away with charging you for something they don't intend to deliver.
2.) Job scams.
Don’t fall into this trap. Crooks send unsolicited emails and notices regarding seasonal jobs for insane salaries that sound too good to be true.
What they are looking for: Personal and financial information; or payment for an application fee.
Protect yourself by watching for these signs:
An "employer" offering unusually high pay for easy work.
No information about the company or job details is provided in writing.
You are pressured to accept a job right away, usually with the threat that if you don't say “yes” immediately you'll lose the opportunity.
You are required to buy expensive items to prepare for the work you will supposedly be doing.
An employer who provides only sketchy contact information, such as a web address or a cell phone number.
3.) Phony package delivery calls.
The caller falsely claims that you are getting a package from the U.S. Post Office, FedEx, or UPS.
What they are looking for: To either extract personal and financial information from you or install software onto your computer that could allow them to snag your passwords, personal information, or spyware.
How you can protect yourself: It’s simple, know how many packages are coming to your house!
4.) Fake social media posts.
What you'll see: Counterfeiters and scammers create fake social media pages and ads to promote counterfeit goods.
Why it matters: Links may send you to a fraudulent website that sells counterfeit goods, such as cheap sunglasses or trashy handbags. The website may install malicious software on your computer, such as keyloggers or ransomware, and help a scammer steal your personal information.
How this can be prevented:
Be careful when you are on social media -- don't click on social media links, including Twitter.
Check to make sure you are on a brand's authorized page. If you're unsure, go to the store's website and use it to find its page on Facebook and other social media sites.
Avoid the temptation to like and share outrageous offers, such as free trips, big discounts, or valuable coupons.
5.) Charity Scams
It’s sick, but people do this. And in 2016, there is a higher likelihood of this kind of scam because 62 percent of Americans are planning to donate money during the holidays. And no devices are safe if you’re not careful. On #GivingTuesday this year, PayPal predicts a 45 percent increase in donations made via mobile devices.
How to prevent becoming a victim of these scams:
Always check with places like Charity Navigator or Wise Giving Alliance to make sure the charity is legitimate.
Also note how much of your donation will go to overhead.
Use secure payment methods like PayPal to make sure your charity is getting their donation in the proper way.