‘Tis the season of giving! But unfortunately, the scammers are taking. As you grow older and begin to simplify your lifestyle, you may feel less inclined to follow the latest cyber threats and protection warnings.
According to a recent AARP survey, both seniors and younger shoppers are unknowingly putting themselves right in the sights of holiday con-artists looking to take our money.
- 70% failed a quiz about how to stay safe from holiday scams;
- 52% didn’t know that professional fundraisers can keep most of the money that they claim to be raising for charity for themselves. With that said…
- 70% of those that donate to charities don’t ask how the money will be spent;
- 58% will buy holiday gift cards from a rack at a pharmacy or grocery store;
- 42% will purchase holiday gift cards online.
Keep your holidays light, bright and scam-free by staying informed and shopping smart!
Here are the Top 5 Ways to Avoid Common Scams this holiday season:
1. Check the charity: The holidays are a great time to spread kindness to those in need. Before you give to a person or organization asking for donations, make sure the charity is registered with the Secretary of State. Don’t be afraid to ask where the money is spent and how much will actually go towards the cause. Although it may feel wrong to be suspicious of a charitable organization, it’s always in your best interest verify and ask questions.
2. Skip the Rack: Gift cards can be easily compromised by scammers – they are able to drain all funds from the gift cards, meaning that it will look legitimate, but may have no balance at all! Avoid purchasing gift cards online or from racks at the store. It is always safest to get them directly from the store or restaurant itself, where no one else has been able to touch the card.
3. Surf Safely: When making purchase online, do not use public Wi-Fi. It is convenient that many public places offer a wireless network these days, but often they are not secure and may put your personal information in jeopardy. Avoid using mobile apps that are tied to your personal or financial information while on an unsecured network.
4. Use Credit Over Debit: Credit cards provide a small built-in protection. When you make a purchase with your credit card, the bank issuing the credit will make the initial payment to the vendor. This means that you will only be charged by the bank after all parties are in agreement that the charge is legitimate, giving you the ability to sift through for possible fraudulent charges. Debit cards, on the other hand, immediately draw the money out of your bank account.
5. Sign Off: Require a signature for all packages you will have delivered to your home. If you are not going to be home, you can always have the package held at the nearest service location. That way you can go pick it up whenever it is most convenient for you!
These 5 easy tips will help you stop those Scrooges, Grinches and Sticky Bandits in their con-artist tracks this holiday season!