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BBB on Seniors Beware: ’Tis the season for holiday scams

November 18, 2018

It’s the season of giving, shopping, buying, spending and, that’s right, holiday scams.

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is prime time for scammers to get every extra penny they can while we are all feeling extra generous.

Scammers never take a holiday. While they are sure to be up to their old tricks, be sure to watch out for these special scams brought to you especially for the holiday season.

The charity trickster — You can be sure that scammers are looking to make a buck off your generous holiday spirit, so expect solicitations for donations from fraudsters claiming to represent a charity and remember to check it out before you give. These collectors may call you on the phone or come knocking on your door, but either way it is impossible to know who is really getting your money. It is always best to donate directly to your charity of choice. If you don’t have the chance to check if the collector who contacts you is genuine, simply decline to give at that time.

Extra holiday money scams — The extra costs that the holidays bring leave many of us looking for a way to make some extra cash. Scammers know this and will ramp up their work-from-home scams that can be tempting this time of year.

Don’t fall for it! Never give out personal information, such as your Social Security number on a job application, to someone you don’t know.

Too-good-to-be-true Cyber Monday deals — On the busiest on-line shopping day of the year scammers will offer up deals that you just won’t believe. Don’t buy anything that seems too good to be true, because it probably is.

If you are doing your shopping online, stick to known and trusted retailers and buy directly from their website. Also, remember to always use a credit card when making purchases online because they offer the most consumer protection, but never do so over an unsecure wi-fi network.

Holiday e-cards — These online greeting cards may look like a friendly holiday card sent from a friend or family member’s e-mail account, but it could actually be spam mail sent from a malicious website looking to gain access to your computer by directing you to a phony website.

Be sure to check the URL of the link before clicking on it (you can do this by scrolling your mouse cursor over the link, and it will appear on the bottom of the current webpage before you click on it).

Or simply call and check with the listed sender to make sure they did indeed send it themselves.

Delivery scams — For many of us it is reasonable to expect package deliveries this time of year. Scammers are counting on that and will contact you either by phone or with a card on your door indicating an unsuccessful delivery attempt of a package.

They will leave a phone number for you to call back and proceed to solicit all sorts of information. They might have you call a premium or overseas phone line to charge you excessive fees on your next phone bill, they may request personal identifying information, or they could be seeking information about when you will or will not be out of the house so they can come back.

Always check the number before you call to ensure it is local or toll free, and don’t give out personal information over the phone to someone you don’t know or give them any indication of when you will be away.

Stay smart this holiday season and be on the lookout for these seasonal swindlers.

If you have any questions or suspicions about calls, e-mails, solicitations, or holiday deals, don’t hesitate to call the BBB Education Foundation at 713-341-6141.

Melissa Ramsey is the BBB Education Foundation columnist. For more information, call 713-341-6141.

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