4 financial scams to avoid this holiday season

A worried couple calculates their house finances together using a laptop computer.

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Thieves are looking to scam you this holiday season.

Key points

  • This holiday season, be careful to avoid scams.
  • Charity scams, package delivery scams, and gift exchange scams are ways thieves can steal your money.

The holiday season is near. For many, the holiday season is a time of fun and excitement with family and friends. But at this time of year, scams are also on the rise.

You could end up parting with your hard-earned cash if you’re not careful. Learn about common scams you need to watch out for in order to keep your money safe.

1. Charity scams

During the holiday season, you may feel inspired to donate to a cause close to your heart. But making sure your money goes where you intend it to go is key.

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What may seem like a great opportunity to give back could be a scammer trying to take advantage of your goodwill.

Charity scams are common during the holiday season, so it’s best to be cautious. Before donating money, do your research to make sure you’re supporting a legitimate charity. If something seems questionable or you feel compelled to donate, it’s best to keep your money.

2. Package delivery scams

Another way scammers can target you this holiday season is to scam package delivery. Many Americans shop online and expect packages to arrive at their doorstep, so delivery messages may appear legitimate. But that may not be the case.

You may receive emails or text messages regarding a package delivery update. However, it could be a fake message from a scammer.

Usually a tracking link is included. Once you click on the tracking link, you may be prompted to update your payment preferences or provide personal information.

These phishing links are used to collect private information, including debit and credit card details, and can put your bank account and even your identity at risk.

Verify the legitimacy of these messages before clicking on any links or providing personal information. If you have a question about the status of a package delivery, you should contact the retailer directly.

3. Gift card scams

Are you planning to give gift cards to your friends and family this year? You should be careful when buying gift cards.

When visiting a local retailer to purchase a gift card, make sure the gift card packaging is intact. If something is wrong, don’t buy it.

Some scammers collect information about gift cards sold in stores so that they can activate the cards and use the loaded funds themselves.

After you pay for the gift card, they can use the information they’ve already collected to use the money on the card before you redeem it yourself.

Protect yourself by ensuring that all gift cards you purchase are sealed and no activation codes are visible or removed.

4. Fake gift exchanges

Another popular scam during the holiday season is bogus gift exchange.

The Better Business Bureau has warned against such exchanges, calling them an illegal pyramid scheme.

How do they work? You may receive an email or see a social media post suggesting you participate in a fun gift exchange. You are promised gifts that will be sent to you in exchange for sending gifts to others.

However, these gift exchanges do not work as advertised. Participants send gifts, gift cards or money to strangers and never receive a gift in return. This can lead to disappointment and wasted money.

If you like the idea of ​​participating in a gift exchange, organize one with your closest friends to be sure that your money and gifts do not go to scammers.

Be vigilant this holiday season

Anyone can fall victim to a scam, especially online.

Be careful this holiday season and take steps to protect your identity and your money. If in doubt, ask a family member or trusted friend what they think before clicking on a link or filling out a form.

Otherwise, you could be the victim of fraud, which could set you back in achieving your personal financial goals.

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