From gift card fraud to malicious cyber campaigns, holiday hustlers are coming up with new ways to scam shoppers online and take their money.
The newest scam – emails or calls asking for payment in gift cards via a call from a fake IRS agent collecting back taxes. Or an urgent email from someone offering to fix your computer.
The Federal Trade Commission says anyone who demands payment by gift card, is ALWAYS a SCAMMER. Sadly, there have been $74 million dollars in gift card related scammers already this year. So, how can we protect ourselves from being a prime target?
Here are 10 reminders to help you preserve your holiday spirit, so that you don’t get ripped off:
- Inspect gift cards before you buy them. Make sure the packaging is in tact and the pin number is still covered.
- Save your receipts. That can be huge in the event you receive a card that doesn’t work.
- Treat gift cards like cash! Once they’re used, they’re gone.
- If you are shopping online and looking at a website that asks for your personal information before you even decide to purchase – STOP and exit the site. It’s likely a scam. Don’t give them any information!
- Don’t fall for phishing emails. Emails posing as prominent emails retailers are just trying to get you to hand over personal information or download a malicious program.
- Check the source email address. If you are not sure if its real, call the retailer directly (not the phone number in the email).
- Never click links in an email you are unsure of. Once you do that, you’ll open yourself up to the possibility of spyware.
- Social media shopping platforms are a popular target. Check the price and compare it with other sites.
- Check ads for spelling or grammar mistakes. Those are often indicators of fraud.
- Porch pirates are on the rise. Set delivery alerts so that you know when your package ships and when it arrives. Cameras at your door are always a good idea as well.
Finally, when you are deciding how best to purchase (cash or credit card), cash is king for small purchases. But credit cards (not debit cards) are really the way to go for large purchases, because they have purchase protection.
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!