The holidays are officially upon us with the smell of pumpkin in the air and Christmas on our minds. This also means, that it’s a time when fraudsters work even harder to take advantage of people. According to the FBI, in 2015 consumers lost more than $19 million to solicitation scams. Whether it be “giveaway” scams or charity scams, this is the time of year to be even more vigilant in protecting yourself and your finances. Below are some helpful tips to help protect you during the holidays.
· Never “pay to play”. There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back or send you more than the exact amount – that’s a red flag that it’s a scam. If a stranger wants to pay you for something, insist on a cashier’s check for the exact amount, preferably from a local bank or one with a local branch.
· Confirm all stories, offers or charities independently. This is the time of year where charities reach out for help with funding. Confirm everything you have been told with an independent source. Look up phone numbers, check credentials, contact family or your financial caregiver before giving to a charity that you are unfamiliar with.
· Verify all credit card charges. The holidays are a popular time when people use their credit cards to help pay for gifts. This is also a common method of payment scammers use via fraudulent charges. Review your credit card statement as soon as you receive it and verify your charges. If any fraudulent charges appear, contact your credit card company immediately.
· Monitor your account. As with your credit card statement, monitor your bank statement for any unusual activity and contact your local bank immediately if suspect that you have been a victim of fraud.
Remember, under no circumstances give out personal, credit card, bank account information over the phone or in an email. Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately. As always, if any offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
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