Don’t let ‘Season’s Greetings’ become ‘Season’s Stealings’

Tis the season to be jolly, but your holiday joy may not be so merry and bright should you run across any of these popular holidays horror stories, from fraud to computer viruses.

Avoid seeing red after starting your holiday season shopping on Black Friday. Before you head out to the stores make sure you clean out your wallet.  Yes, that’s right.  Take only the credit or debit card that you plan on using and your Driver’s License.   It only takes a minute to lift your wallet or purse from your shopping cart or back pocket and the more you have in there, the more you have to loose.

Make a list and check it twice. Store your credit cards and other financial information in a safe place.  Make copies of those cards that you are carrying with you and be sure to attach contact information to your copies.   This way if something does go wrong, you have all the information you need to start making it right.

Don’t be snowed under by requests for your information. Whether it is a pretending to be a non-profit agency or a “seller” of the latest and greatest tech gadgets that everyone must have, don’t supply your credit or debit card, checking or savings information over the phone or over the Internet.  Identity thieves and credit card fraudster know what you want this holiday season, and they want it too.  They just want you to pay for it.

Wrap up those receipts. Save your receipts.  Not forever, but at least until you are sure that what you are saving and spending all adds up on your next bank or credit card statement.  You never know when someone may “charge” right in there and buy their own Christmas presents using your money.

Santa’s helpers work from home.  With the holidays many of us are looking for ways to make a few dollars more.  Watch out for work from home opportunities that request your credit card information or other payment upfront.   Unfortunately your glee may turn into gag when your so called registration fee, registers nothing but your credit card as stolen.

Wi-Fi roasting by an open fire.   As you make your travels using your netbooks and iPads and enjoy free Wi-Fi services remember that there is nothing “warming” about having your information and identity stolen.   Never, connect to a computer to computer network.

Pop goes the scam.   Don’t you hate those pop ups on your computer and flash “You are our 100th winner!”  Not only are they ugly and annoying, but quite often they are also a scam, especially targeted to teens and tweens.  With just a few simple text or key strokes they think they are going to win a free (insert hot tech gadget here).  Typing or texting, it all means the same thing.  Make sure you know what and who you are dealing with before you ring a ling a ling.

Free is not all it is cracked up to be.   Trust me I am the first person in the world to admit that before I purchase anything or head to any store I look for a coupon.  After all every penny counts right?  Fraudulent coupons pop up even more frequently on the Internet during the holiday season.  Make sure it’s a valid coupon before you start clipping and avoid falling for freebie frauds.

Play it Safe.  Shop from retailers that you are familiar with.

Check out those charities.  Use Charity Navigator to check out any charity before you start to hand over your dough or offer up some toys to be nice.   Unfortunately there are far too many  others out there on the naughty list.

Season’s Greetings!  E-cards are great fun.  They save time, money and expense.  They can do so many more things than a simply mailed can do, and I don’t just mean the animations and songs.   E-cards coming from your great aunt Emily who is 84 and doesn’t use the Internet, some Jane Smith or Dora Doe, or that have misspellings in them are quite possibly spam or scams.    Be careful opening a virtual present or card to make sure it doesn’t leave your computer in real life broke.

Avoid the “Grinch Who Stole Christmas” with these simple reminders and tips of the most common holiday scams that may try to snow you under.