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How to escape the rising flood of holiday scams

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With the holidays coming up, scammers will be increasing their efforts to take advantage of those who want to give.

Around 24% of people fall victim to some type of holiday scam. This includes a range of scams from credit card theft to fake online products.

For example, Robert A. lives in Arizona. He’s an avid golfer who concocted a plan to set up a charity golf tournament to benefit a non-profit foundation.

According to police, Robert contacted people by phone and in person at local golf courses, encouraging them to make donations in cash that would go toward a charity.

At least three different people gave Robert over $14,000 to benefit the charity.

However, it was eventually revealed that the tournament did not exist.

The charity was a nationwide organization. They said they had no idea about the golf tournament and that it was not part of their charitable activity.

Robert convinced his victims he would be purchasing golf balls to be sold at golf courses with the proceeds going to charity.

According to police, this was not the first time that Robert had been arrested for fraud. He’d carried out similar schemes to get people to hand over money.

Police warn that even if someone has proof they are working with a charity you should still be cautious.

In this case, the police said that Robert asking for donations in cash was clearly a red flag. A reputable charity would accept donations in different forms if they are legitimate.

Police also said that people should contact the charity before handing donations over to a person representing the organization.

Considering this, and all the other scams going on, here are a few of the top holiday scams to watch out for this year.

Gift cards:

Gift cards are an easy gift. It’s hard to shop for people when you don’t know what they want, so many people give gift cards during the holidays.

Scammers love gift cards because they are untraceable, and there is no way to recover the funds once the scammer uses them.

For this reason, many scammers will ask for payments with gift cards.

For example, if you are trying to donate to the Salvation Army and they ask you to pay with a gift card, then it’s likely a scam.

In fact, whenever someone demands payment with a gift card it’s a scam.

Charity:

During the holiday’s many people want to give to those who are less fortunate. It’s also a way to make tax-deductible donations.

Piggybacking on this, scammers will often make calls during the holidays asking for donations.

One telltale sign of a “charity scammer” is that they will be very pushy and insist on a donation immediately.

Another charity scam involves someone contacting the victim, thanking them for the donation.

The victim is often confused by this and might give up personal details to verify the donation.

Always research a charity before giving them donations.

Instead of giving information when the charity calls you, you should instead contact them. Give them a donation payment when you initiate the conversation.

Package delivery:

Around 75% of Americans do some of their shopping online. This means there are a lot of packages delivered, especially during the holidays.

Most consumers track their packages, so they don’t get lost or stolen. But scammers use this to their advantage.

Scammers use delivery notification calls, texts, and emails to convince victims to provide them with information.

They might even text or email a fake tracking link to install malware on your computer.

Even more convincing is when scammers leave a voicemail and ask you to contact them about a delivery.

This can result in high call fees and per-minute rates that the victim has no idea about.

If you are contacted by a supposed delivery company, it’s best to hang up or ignore the text or email.

Instead, reach out to the company directly about the status of your package.

Gift exchanges:

People love to exchange gifts during the holidays. It’s a common workplace practice in many places.

And scammers have taken advantage of this by advertising gift exchanges on social media.

If you see a gift exchange on social media, there is a good chance it’s a scam. These scams promise victims a variety of gifts in exchange for them sending one first.

For instance, the ad might say you can buy a $10 gift and will receive five gifts back.

The catch is that the gift exchange will ask for your name, address, and other personal details. It might also ask you to share the ad with your social media friends.

Once you hand over your information you are usually charged more than expected. Plus, you pay shipping fees to send someone a gift who doesn’t send one back.

When it comes to holiday gift exchanges stick with people you know and personally get together with.

Now, as the holidays draw closer, you need to watch out for these types of scams. They’ll be ramping up in the coming months.

Use these tips to protect yourself and keep your information private.

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