The holiday season is upon us, and that means that gifts will be bought, vacations will be taken and the exchange of money will constantly happen in order to make the world a little brighter for others. Unfortunately, scammers know that this occurs every year around the holidays, and they make sure to take full advantage of it. The FBI recently released a warning to consumers who are using the Internet to get their holiday tasks done, but a warning simply isn’t enough. Internet users need to know which scams to look out for.
1. Holiday Travels
The holiday season often entails traveling great distances to visit family members. This is actually one of the greatest perks of the holidays, but it can easily lead to a person falling for a “deal” that is anything but. The attorneys at www.maryland-criminallawyer.com point to scammers often sending emails containing what appears to be a great vacation deal to unsuspecting individuals. For many it can be difficult to determine if these vacation packages are legitimate. It’s important to note, however, that just because a company will send a person on a vacation doesn’t mean that they aren’t scammers.
Any holiday traveler should read the terms and conditions of the travel website that they’re using and make sure that they know all the fees that are included. It’s also vital to note whether these “deals” are refundable if something unsuspected arises. The best piece of advice for traveling during the holidays is to use well-known websites such as Kayak or Expedia.
2. Gift Card Scams
Gift cards have been used to scam far too many people during the holidays. Some individuals sell gift cards on classified and auction sites, and some of these people are legitimately just trying to get rid of a card that they don’t want. Unfortunately, it is far too easy for a person to steal gift cards from a store without activating them and then pass them off online. Gift cards to a certain store should only be purchased directly from that store or its website.
3. Fake Charities
One of the greatest things about the holidays is the fact that charitable giving increases. Sadly, this is often a queue for less than honest people to take advantage of others’ good heartedness. Everyone should note that most reputable charities will not send a person emails requesting donations unless they’ve done business with them before. Any charity that is unknown to a person should be investigated online at sites such as guidestar.org to ensure that the charity is legitimate and to find out how much of the donated money actually goes to the advertised cause.
4. Phishing Emails
Phishing emails are a huge problem throughout the year, but scammers really kick them into high gear near the holidays. These emails will appear to be from a website (ie. Paypal) and often have a link to click where a person can provide their login information. Unfortunately, it isn’t very hard to fake a legitimate looking website.
Any online holiday shopper that receives an email from any company should not click any of the links within the email; they should visit the site directly by entering its address into the Internet browser. Any deals offered in these emails will be verifiable by a person by signing into their account or contacting the company directly.
5. Unsecured Website Scams
It can be a very exciting thing for a person to finally come across the gift they’ve been looking for at a decent price, but it’s important to pay attention to the web address before entering any financial information. Secure websites start with ‘https’ instead of ‘http’. This means that a person’s financial information will be encrypted and is secure. Any site that isn’t secured is likely just a phantom site created to steal credit card numbers.
The holidays are the time of the year when most people will end up spending some money. With the Internet being so widely used, it’s likely that many people will use it to send money in one way or the other during the holidays. Knowing the aforementioned scams can go a long way in preventing a person from becoming a victim, but as always, a little common sense goes an even longer way. If it doesn’t feel right, then there’s a good chance that it’s not.
Georgina Clatworthy is a freelance writer who regularly posts on topics relating to law, finance and consumer issues. She contributes this post for Price Benowitz, a Maryland based criminal defense firm. If you have been charged with a criminal offence relating to fraud in Maryland, then visit www.maryland-criminallawyer.com to discover how they can help you build a successful defense and ensure your rights will always be protected.