It’s November, and remember, Christmas is less than eight weeks away. Celebrate Chanukah? There are less than four weeks left. For crooks, it’s time for cheating seasons, so here are some of the ways criminals are working for your money.
I’ve written about the many shopping scams before, but here are two more to consider: Substitute Products and Identity Theft.
A number of scam websites offer branded items with big discounts or advertise included gift cards as incentives. Buyers find that the products are counterfeit or “counterfeit” items, and the gift cards are invalid. Some websites are just hoping to get data that can be used for identity theft, including names, addresses, and credit card information.
Exposing these scams can be as simple as calling the Better Business Bureau, visiting their website, or performing a web search using the name of the business with the word “review” attached.
Social media is another potential danger for buyers. Criminals post articles for sale or try to lure you to scam websites by asking you to take surveys. Why? Financial theft and identity theft.
Gift cards are popular giveaways, and gift card scams are easy choices for scammers.
One crook trick is to copy the card numbers and pins on the cards by scraping off the dithering layer. An unsuspecting buyer offers the card as a gift, only to find out that the value of the card is $ 0. Your best protection is to examine the back of the card for any tampering, such as revealed digits or scratches. Give this card to a store employee and buy one that is “clean”.
Another favorite with criminals this season is package theft. The increase in online shopping means more business for companies like FedEx, Amazon, and UPS. Deliveries are often made when people are working or at school. Criminals watch delivery trucks and steal packages unattended. Protect your packages by having them held until a convenient time for delivery, or arrange for them to be picked up elsewhere.
The holiday season has always been a great time to earn extra money through part-time jobs. It is also a popular time for criminals to steal money or personal information from job seekers. Often, job postings appear on social media asking for resumes and personal information, including social security numbers. Look for the job posting before filling out an application.
Criminals also post help ads on legitimate websites. These ads include links to impostor websites asking for the completion of a bogus app. Again, due diligence is required.
If possible, apply for a job in person. Check the legitimacy of the offer if you are applying on a website. Use legitimate information (do a Google search) to contact the company, ask if they are hiring and how to apply. As with all scams, if it’s fraudulent, report it to the FBI at IC3.gov or to the FTC, reportfraud.ftc.gov.
All scams are designed to take advantage of people’s poor judgment or emotional state, but some are much more destructive. These are the scams that take advantage of the generosity and goodwill of those who wish to help friends, neighbors and strangers in need.
Charitable fraud represents a loss of over $ 40 billion per year. Some of the scams are elaborate identity thefts of real charities, including well-designed websites and mailings, while others are less sophisticated and may just be frames in an email message of social media posts. .
Citing immediacy can be a red flag. Scammers will often make their point as tackling a difficulty that your donation will alleviate. Likewise, the requested payment method may be a red flag. Payments in cash, gift cards and wire transfers leave almost no trace and no proof of your donations. Making payments by check or credit card will provide a record of your actions, but be careful when entering credit card information online.
Finally, use one of the utilities to search for charities – charitynavigator.org, the Better Business Bureau’s give.org, or guidestar.org provide ratings of charities.
Questions, concerns? Contact me, [email protected]
Elliott Greenblott is a retired educator and coordinator of the AARP Vermont Fraud Watch Network. He hosts a CATV program, “Mr. Scammer,” distributed by GNAT-TV in Sunderland, Vermont: gnat-tv.org.