Scams prevail during the holidays

Hints from Heloise

Dear Heloise: I work for a major credit card company, and every year, we have problems with scammers during the holidays. This year, however, things have gotten much worse. We get calls daily from clients who have made a mistake, handed out personal information or fallen victim to some type of scam. We are committed to warning our clients and others this holiday season, so I’m hoping that you’ll pass along my suggestions to your readers:

1. If a deal or a sale seems too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. This is especially true if the usual price for something falls on the expensive side. A client saw an item he wanted that is usually priced at $399 on sale at an online company for $79. Thank goodness he decided not to buy it.

2. If you are planning on donating to a charity online, look them up before you send them money or information about yourself. You might want to try charitynavigator.org or any other reliable charity-rating service.

3. If you are asked to pay for something with gift cards, or if you are asked to cash a check and send someone excess funds, don’t. It’s an old scam.

4. Perhaps your best bet for shopping online is to use a company you trust, are very familiar with or have used before. Using a credit or debit card is safest. Stay away from “cash on delivery” as a way to pay.

5. Watch out for emails that ask you to confirm delivery or that request your bank PIN number or a password in order to deliver an item to you. This, more than likely, is a scam. If you don’t know whether you ordered the item or not, call the merchant and only use the phone number listed on their website. Never use the phone number listed on the email that scammers send you. If you see a “click here” link on the email, don’t! That’s just a way to get into your devices and gather personal information.

Stay safe during this holiday and protect yourself against scammers. — Diane, in New York

Send a great hint to: Heloise@Heloise.com



Dear Heloise: Two weeks ago, I saw an advertisement for holiday employment. They emailed me an application, but asked for very personal information that no one has a right to ask on an initial application. They wanted my Social Security number and the name of my bank. They said pay checks would be automatically deposited in my account. That’s normally not given out until someone is hired.

A red flag went up when I was told that they would need my checking account number, my savings account number and a pin number. It was glaringly obvious they were scammers. I turned them into the FBI. — Gregory H., St. Louis


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