The holidays have rolled around, and the seasonal scams are in full force. So, we’re here to give you the heads up on how to avoid some of the more prominent holiday scams.
Many of the seasonal scams involve social media, such as posts in the local Swip Swap or other big groups. They’re emotional pleas which tug at our heartstrings. Stories like, “I just lost my job,” ‘We just got a house after being homeless,” or, “I really need to get home to my family.” Many of them involve children. At the bottom of this post is a list of charities who help people in those situations.
This type of email will involve a company you do business with already. It may be from someone pretending to be your bank, credit card company, or one of the delivery services such as FedEx or Amazon. They ‘provide’ a link, which takes you to a very official looking form which asks for your personal information.
Solicitations for charities are always intensive during the holidays. Never give your credit card information over the phone to anyone who calls you. If you want to donate to a charity, reach out to them.
Package delivery scams
This one involves a note telling you the company tried to deliver a package, but were unable to, and offers a number for you to call. The telephone number is a fake with high fees attached. You won’t know until you get your phone bill. If you’re expecting a package and get a note, reach out to their standard phone number to contact them. If you get a package you didn’t order, it could be stolen goods, and you’re being used as a middleman.
Shopping center parking lots
A person will approach the mark while they’re getting into their car, ask for money or a ride somewhere, such as to the bus stop. The scams are always the same--got thrown out of their house, have to get home, need a couple of bucks for gas or money for food for their children.
If you buy gift cards, don’t buy the ones on the rack; those can have their codes stolen through tampering. Get gift cards from the issuing retailer, or from a business which hands you the card from a back room after you pay for it. Pass on online auction gift cards, which are often fake.
Don’t ever buy from a site which starts with ‘http’ rather than ‘https,’ or from a site which promises something which is too good to be true. (It is!) If you wonder about the integrity of a company, poke around a little bit and see if there are complaints about the site being ‘backlogged’ or not delivering at all. If you don’t know the site, don’t give them your business.
Who can you trust?
Trust is a history. So, if you don’t know the company or person, there is no history with them, and they aren't on the list of people you can trust. Sometimes, a person you may know but not very well will also use the holiday as a means to try to secure money from you. The easiest way to handle that (if you feel deeply compelled) is to give them a gift card.
Note: True homeless people are always excited when they get a gift card, especially if it’s for someplace like the local coffee place because it’s a treat they will never be able to get on their own.
If you’re disturbed by the plight of the suffering and hungry or homeless, you can always donate clothing, blankets, food, and money to local charities such as those listed below. There are many others, such as the Salvation Army, who aren't local but serve locally.
Some local charities for the homeless:
There are many other charities which are worthwhile.
It's our sincere hope that you all have a safe and happy holiday. Thank you for your business and continuing support!
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