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Watch Out For Holiday Scams and Scam Artists

Unfortunately, the holidiays bring out the best and the worst of people.  Scams are most commonly found around the holidays, and consumers need to be educated about what to look out for when going shopping in the stores and online this year.  CNN Money has a good article about which scams to look out for this year. The elderly and young people like college students tend to be the most targeted by scammers, because they tend to be more naive and more desperate for quick cash.
The newest scam lately has been the gift card scam.  Scumbag scam artists are jotting down the gift card number at the store and waitiing a few days until it is activated.  Once the number has been loaded with money, the scammer goes online to use it to buy things on the store’s website.  CNN Money suggests only buying gift cards behind the store counter or ones that require you to scratch off the gift card number.

NEVER give your bank account number to someone over the phone if THEY contacted you.  You would be surprised how many people this gets every year.  There is not a financial institution in the world that will initiate contact with you and ask for your bank account numberr or credit card number.  Why the heck would they ever need to know that?  They already have access to it!

Many of you will buy and sell on ebay, craigslist, and otherr similar websites.  Continue to watch out for scammers on these sites.  The cashier’s check and money order scam is the most popular scam right now.  Don’t even accept these forms of payment.  If you do, wait at least seven business days after the check was deposited into your account to make sure that it clears at the bank’s headquarters.  I was almost a victim of this scam, because I was tricked by my bank.  Bank of America will make the funds to a check available after about one or two business days, however, this does NOT mean that the funds have truly cleared from the other person’s account.  It has to go to the bank’s headquarters where cashier’s checks/money orders are verified for counterfeit attributes and personal checks are truly cleared from another person’s bank.

If you are a blog reader, than you are most likely savvy enough to know about the email scams, but there are still younger and older people that fall into the email traps.  Again, companies like ebay and paypal are never going to ask for your personal banking information in an email, no matter HOW legitimate the email or website link looks.

On a side note, this ties directly in with the growing epidemic of identity theft.  Realize that the main source of identity theft is still garbage pickers and not online hackers.  Make sure you tear up or shred your mail and keep all of your holiday receipts.  Identity theft thrives around the holidays.  Many major insurance companies sell an identity theft product, and you can buy it for probably $5 – $10 per month.  It might be worth looking into if you do a lot of online shopping and throw away a lot of important documents.

Sorry!  I didn’t mean to put a negatiive spin on the holidays, but I want everyone to be aware of the jerks that are out there to try to ruin your Christmas.  The great thing is that scammers will never hurt the true joy that comes from celebrating Christmas with family and friends.

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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