Holiday scams!!


Holiday Sale image

Image courtesy of Simon Howden - click on image for his gallery

It never fails – this time of the year the scams are everywhere – from fake bell ringers with red kettles to online scams destined to drain your bank accounts.  So how do you avoid being a target?

1. Don’t open spam!  Most of the spam is easily recognizable as spam and ends up in that folder automatically – I review the folder a couple of times a day and make sure it didn’t trap something that isn’t spam and then I delete them.  I NEVER open them if they are spam!!

Here are some common spammy emails this time of year!

  1. We have a job for you, seasonal help, work from home etc.
  2. Charity you have no connection with wants you to donate
  3. We have a check for you, or you have won a million dollars in some lottery you never entered, or my favorite – “I am contacting you regarding a million dollars…left in some account”
  4. You have won an ipad or an iphone (this one is hot this year)
  5. You have won a gift card – just click here…

2.  Phishing Scams – also part of spam but these are little more intense and often quite elaborate in order to make you click on something you should NEVER click on.

  1. The one most often seen during the holiday season is “your account has been frozen” or “this purchase is suspicious” and then it looks like it is from your bank or credit card company – they want you to click and update your account or verify a suspicious purchase is OK or not – usually using the ploy that the purchase is NOT yours and of course you want to fix it…wrong – never-ever click.  If you think it may be a legitimate email – don’t click  – contact your financial institution.

3.  Craig’s List – be very very careful about how you approach buying anything on Craig’s List especially this time of year…if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

4.  Limited offers – I have learned to hate most of the Black Friday deals – usually they are dumping old product – like the year they dumped 720p TVs because the new 1080s were coming out.   Often in tiny tiny print it will say something like “10 per store” – people will kill for getting one of the 10 (see #5 Bait-n-Switch)?  Quite frankly I usually stay home – I won’t feed the insanity and I certainly don’t want a $2 waffle maker and stand in line in the cold for hours to get something that normally sells for $10!

5. Bait-n-Switch – happens less than it used to but lets be honest those “door buster deals” (where there are a limit of 3 per store) are really bait deals disguised as sales…they lure you in only to disappoint – of course you are there so you find something similar and purchase it.  Quite frankly even if you were the first person through the door…there is little chance you might be one of the luck 3! Employees often snag the deals before they even hit the sales floor…then they “try to help you” find the product…only to be magically out of the “3 we were shipped” have already been sold.

So how do you protect yourself?

  1. Buyer beware – if it sounds too good to be true it probably is – even large stores like Best Buy or Walmart might be dumping last years merchandise to make way for the new products coming in January.
  2. Use your intuition – things that “ring wrong” with your intuition – step back – don’t click or don’t call or don’t buy…you have those little intuition voices for a reason
  3. Watch for keywords that start to feed the “I have to have that” frenzy in your head…trust me marketers know how to feed that part of your brain – if you feel that little frenzy starting – step back!!