4 Scams To Avoid During The Holidays

Image courtesy of Douglas Woods

It’s that time of year, where all your focus is on your quest to shop for gifts, decorate your home, and survive the gauntlet of holiday parties. But don’t let your ambition for discounts and seemingly great seasonal opportunities blind you to some common scams that tend to pop up in these final weeks of the year.

The FBI says the busy shopping season comes with increasingly aggressive and created scams designed by criminals looking to steal not only your money, but your personal information. To protect consumers, the agency has a few tips you should keep in mind.

1. Online shopping scams

Beware any deal that looks too good to be true — because it probably is. The FBI suggests avoiding unfamiliar sites that offer unrealistic discounts on brand name products, or gift cards as incentive to purchase something. You might not only end up paying more than you should; you could also be giving away your personal information to a malicious third party.

The FBI also warns consumers to make sure all your accounts — banking, credit, airlines, and rewards — are equipped with strong passwords, and that you use different passwords for each of your various accounts.

2. Social media scams

Those posts offering vouchers or gift cards for popular products are probably not a good idea, even if your friend shared it with you. Some might be fake holiday promotions or contests that lead consumers to answer an online survey designed to phish their personal information.

Don’t post tickets of events you’re attending on social media, either, as scammers might use those barcodes to create fake tickets for resale.

3. Smartphone app scams

Free apps and games are often more appealing than versions you have to pay for, but they could also be designed to steal personal information from your device, warns the FBI. So before you download an app from an unknown source, do your homework and check for third-party reviews.

“And be mindful that alternative app marketplaces can potentially include stolen content and compromised versions of otherwise trustworthy applications,” the Bureau notes.

(You should also be on the lookout for fake retailer’s apps on your iPhone this holiday season)

4. Work-From-Home scams

The opportunity to earn a little extra cash during the holidays can be an attractive lure, but beware of postings that offer work that can be done from home. Many of these jobs could have unscrupulous motives behind them: watch out for offers where a payment is required upfront, or when a job post says you don’t have to have any experience.

Research the company or individuals thoroughly before giving out any personal information, and don’t hand over that type of information during your first interaction with a potential employer.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.