Scam Alert!


As we enter the holiday season, it pays to be vigilant to avoid scams or slip-ups that could put a damper on your celebrations. Here are some ways to keep your holidays happy.

Beware of fake smartphone shopping apps. Scam artists have found a new way to make you part with your hard earned money. They are creating fake shopping apps for iOS and Android phones that capture your payment information and then leave you holding the bag. Both Apple and Google are weeding out fake apps as they are reported, but be on the alert.

Buying gift cards? Consider this. Thieves hit store gift card racks, secretly write down or scan the numbers off the cards, then check online or call the toll-free number to see if someone has bought the cards and activated them. As soon as a card is active, the scammers drain the funds. By the time your gift recipient tries to use the card, the money is long gone.

Keep the debit card in your wallet. Consumer protection experts recommend the use of credit cards rather than debit cards for most purchases, to protect from fraud and theft. With credit cards, you are liable for only up to $50 of fraudulent use. In the case of a lost or stolen debit card, your financial loss could be much more significant.

Sign for those package deliveries. Package delivery companies are not responsible for stolen packages that are left at your front door without requiring a delivery signature.

Be mindful when applying for temporary holiday jobs. Bogus online job applications for holiday help aim to get you to share personally identifiable information, especially your Social Security number. Don’t share your number with anyone unless you absolutely have to, and never provide it until you confirm you are dealing with a real organization looking for employees.

Is that really a holiday e-card? Fake e-cards can carry malicious software or contain unwanted advertising. Clues of a fake card include not knowing the sender, not being familiar with the e-card company, and misspellings.

If a deal sounds too good to be true… You know the rest. Watch out for deals offered by companies with unfamiliar websites. Check for reviews on Yelp, Google or through the Better Business Bureau. Even search the retailer’s name and “scam” to see if it checks out before typing in your payment information.