Bad guys do not take holidays off. If anything, they exploit them. In the best of times and in the worst of times, the holiday season simply has too much cash up for grabs for scammers. You deserve to enjoy some stress-busting shopping. Continue reading about these common seasonal scams and eliminate some stress before you even get started.
Shipping Notification Scams
Despite sales in the hundreds of billions, online merchants are still proving themselves to consumers when it comes to the security of transactions and for good reason. Immediately after making most purchases, online customers await a shipping notification or confirmation. This is often the first point of contact made by fraudsters.
Here is how it works. You may receive an e-mail with a bogus shipping information. It may even suggest that delivery was attempted. The sign of trouble is an attached file. Do not click on any attachment. This is how viruses are downloaded to your computer and gain access to bank accounts and passwords.
Mobile App Scams
Now that online access is in your pocket, rather than simply via your desktop, some rules remain the same, but new dangers have also emerged.
Here is how it works. You unknowingly download a malicious mobile app. The app is encoded with something called NFC technology. NFC stands for “near field communication.” Basically, it can communicate with nearby devices that have the same technology. Some credit cards actually have such technology built-in. Once your phone is compromised, you may end up the victim of the most advanced form of pickpocketing. Your credit card info will have been e-mailed to the perpetrator, who can then use it to make purchases online or at stores that have tap-and-go payment devices.
Gift Card Scams
This one may already have occurred to you while standing in the checkout aisle. The scam involves gift cards purchased directly from the cashier. These gift cards do not have PIN numbers or the protection of a bank. Yet, at some point, indeterminate amounts of money are going to be associated with them.
Here is how it works. Obtaining the digits from the gift card is simply the beginning. Once the store places the gift card back on the rack, thieves are able to electronically track the gift card. Thieves wait for money to be added and for the gift card to be activated. Then, they wipe the funds out.
Like I said, protection from this one is simple:
- Do not buy gift cards with packaging that appears to be tampered with.
- Do not buy gift cards without packaging or displayed out in the open. Ask the cashier if there are any behind the counter or in the back of the store.
- Do not buy gift cards from third-party vendors who you are not familiar with. Stick to trusted retailers.
Beware of online charity scams.
Here is how it works. Know who you are giving to. Know where your money is going. The cynical among us may be quick to dismiss stories of disaster and tragedy. Sadly, the less cynical may read on and reach the part where donations or loans are requested via Western Union or MoneyGram. Be sure to do your research and do not fall for this scam.
Please enjoy your holiday shopping, but be safe in the process. Shop with reputable merchants. Do not click on links in unsolicited e-mails. Try to use your credit card and not your debit card because credit cards are not directly linked to your bank account. If you run into any trouble along the way and need advice from a consumer law attorney, please give us a call.
Please be advised that this blog is for informational purposes only, is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.
The Law Office of H. Benjamin Sharlin LLC
is owned and operated by H. Benjamin Sharlin and serves all of Mercer County, New Jersey and the surrounding areas. Mr. Sharlin is a bilingual Spanish-speaking attorney who vigorously represents the interests of all his clients.
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