Christmas is a magical time of year- especially for thieves looking to make your money and gifts disappear.
From stealing gifts off your steps to creating fake websites, the sad fact is the holiday season is full of opportunities for scam artists to take your hard-earned money.
Even worse, most of the time you don’t even realize your being fleeced until it’s too late.
Luckily, we have information on the 3 biggest scams going on this season and what you can do to protect yourself, courtesy of a report from NBC National investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen.
So read on and learn what to look for so you can make sure this a very merry Christmas for everyone you love.
Scam #1 Used Gift Cards
You would think buying a gift card in a reputable store would be safe and secure, but it’s not.
According to Jeff, many thieves are copying the card information and scratching the back of the card to reveal the security code: they then keep calling the card to see when you activate it and use it before you can.
This is quite clever: shoppers this time of year are usually rushing around, so they don’t notice the code is scratched or think much of it if they do notice.
Protect yourself: Before buying any card take a minute and check the back to make sure nothing is scratched off.
Scam #2: Disappearing Gifts
These days a lot of shopping is done online, which means lots of deliveries and lots of chances for thieves to make off with your gifts.
Jeff point out that many deliveries occur while most of us are at work.
Thieves know this and will follow Fed Ex or UPS trucks around, watching where they deliver- they will then take the boxes right off your steps.
Protect Yourself: there are several ways to stop this from happening:
-Schedule your deliveries for a specific time: in many cases you can request to have packages delivered after a certain time once it reaches the facility.
-Have them delivered to a friend’s house who you know is home or ask a neighbor; you can also have them delivered to your job if it’s allowed or to the UPS/Fed Ex/Post Office and pick it up.
-Track your packages to know when it is expected so you can have someone look out for it.
Scam #3: Phony Websites.
Ordering online is fast, easy, and full of risks.
These days there are lots of fake websites that appear to have great deals but the only deal they are offering is to take your money.
Even more alarming, many of these sites look like the real thing.
Protect Yourself: Jeff’s advice is to only shop on sites that have HTTPS in front of the URL: the S stands for secure, so you know it is a verified site.
Also, if you have any doubts call the company directly and order or go to the store.
Do you think this scam alert will help you stay protected this holiday season?
Let us know if you have any tips or advice below and be sure to follow all my latest consumer news reports on Twitter!