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Watch Out for These 5 Holiday Scams

Any time there is a lot of money going being spent, scammers present themselves, ready to take advantage of our desire to get the best deal. There are all types of scams out there, from investment scams [3] to other types of fraud. During the holiday season, scammers are on the prowl, looking for those whose judgment might be a little impaired.

As your quest for the perfect holiday season [4] gets underway, it’s important to stay on the alert for scams. As always, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Here are 5 holiday scams to watch out for:

1. Online Auctions

We’ve had a good amount of success on eBay. Online auctions [5] can be one way to find good prices on certain items. We’ve bought many a toy for my son online, and I frequently find auctions for my husband’s Christmas gifts. However, you have to be careful. In some cases, sellers put up sales for items they don’t actually have. You bid, win the auction, and then send payment. The scammer gets your payment, and then uses a fraudulent credit card number to make a purchase of the item. Instead of shipping it to you, though, the item is shipped to the scammer. So, the scammer gets the item for free, using the stolen credit card info, and he or she gets the money you sent. You, of course, get nothing.

2. Social Media Holiday Deals

With the spread of social media, there are also a lot more scams. You might see ads on Twitter, which use shortened links, enticing you with amazing deals. You click on the link, though, and are taken to a malicious site that might infect your computer. Additionally, you might see fan page “deals” liked by your friends, but those accounts might be hacked and sending you you to a bad neighborhood. Carefully consider which deals you click on from social media channels, since they could be scams.

3. Classified Ads for Seasonal Jobs

Are you looking for a part-time holiday job [6] for a little extra money? If so, you might find yourself being scammed. Some scammers use Classifieds to convince you that you are getting holiday work. You provide your personal information, and the scammer can then steal your identity. You are told you didn’t get the job (or just ignored altogether), and a scammer has all your info.

4. Holiday Gift Deals

Do you want the hottest toy [7] or latest gadget? This desire to get a free iPad Mini, or get the latest toy for a huge discount, can lead you into the clutches of scammers. You might see the banners proclaiming free or discounted items, or social media posts purporting to offer you the chance to enter a holiday gift raffle. In any case, you are asked for personal information, which can be used to steal your identity, or you click on a malicious link that downloads spyware, or some other harmful code.

5. Fraudulent Charities

One of the time-honored holiday scams [8] is the fraudulent charity. You get a call, or even see someone out and about while you’re shopping, claiming to be from a charity. You give money, and not a dime of it goes to the cause you think you’re helping. The worst is when you fall for a scam over the phone. You give your credit card number, and now the scammer can sell it, or use it. The clever scammers just charge your card for the amount you are donating, and then keep the money. When your statement arrives, the name of the fake charity appears, and you are none the wiser.

(Photo: jepoirrier [9])