It seems that the holiday season starts earlier and earlier each year so it certainly is not too early to warn you about some of the many scams that will be threatening your holidays if you are not careful. As it says, in “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” you better watch out. My list of twelve scams of Christmas isn’t meant to be sung, but it is meant to provide an early warning of the fact that although every season is scam season, the holiday season is a particularly dangerous time of year for scams. Here is my list of twelve scams of Christmas. Over the next month I will be explaining them in detail here on Scamicide.
1. Major data breach at retailers.
2. Phony online shopping websites purporting to sell the latest toys and gadgets.
3. Gift card scams.
4. Delivery service scams.
5. E greeting card scams.
6. Phony charities.
7. Puppy scams in which you are sold non-existent dogs.
8. Phishing emails that appear to come from major retailers.
9. Phony holiday vacation deals.
10. Phony holiday apps for your smartphone.
11. Phony holiday contests and lotteries.
12. Grandparent scam – holiday style.
Although I will be explaining these scams in detail over the next month, here are a few major tips to keep in mind.
When shopping in a retail store, if you have the Apple iPay, use it. It may not be perfect, but it is a great improvement over the magnetic stripe credit cards still used by almost all American retailers. You also might want to consider getting a smart chip card from your credit card provider and using it at the stores such as WalMart which are switching to these safer credit cards well ahead of the October 2015 deadline to change over to the new cards. Also remember not to use your debit card while retail shopping. The consumer protection laws relating to debit card use are not as strong as those relating to fraudulent use of credit cards. It is important to remember that there will be major data breaches at retail stores where we all shop and the hacked companies won’t be quick to discover that they have been hacked so carefully monitor on line your credit card’s usage more often than your monthly statement to be able to learn as quickly as possible if you have been victimized in a data breach. Also, when shopping at a brick and mortar retail store, keep an eye on your credit card as it is processed by the sales clerk. There will be more than a few seasonal, rogue employees who will have small electronic devices called skimmers that enable the sales clerk to run your card through this card reading skimmer to steal your credit card information before running the card through the store’s legitimate credit card processing equipment.
Here is a link to a column I wrote for USA Today that describes these holiday scams. Within the column is another link to an additional column on the same subject.