This holiday season, millions of Americans will prepare to buy gifts for their loved ones and make charitable donations to organizations of their choice. Unfortunately, scammers know this, and have used the holiday season as an entry-point into consumers' pocketbooks. Here are some of the top holiday scams, as identified by the Scam Awareness Alliance.
Online and Mobile Shopping Scams
This season, almost half of holiday shopping will be done online and nearly 25 percent of purchases will be made on smartphones. Scam artists will try to get their cut of that cash by soliciting customers through fake websites, social media sites or email. They'll offer popular merchandise or gift cards at a deep discount and ask for payment through a money order or money transfer but never send the item.
Tip: Never send money to someone you don't know. If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Traditionally the end of the year is a prime time for people to donate to charity. Scammers will take advantage of this outpouring of goodwill by creating a new charity or misusing the name and branding of a well-known charity to get donations sent directly to them.
Tip: Before donating, verify the charity is legitimate and always use a check or credit card instead of cash or a wire transfer for a donation.
People looking to earn extra money for holiday shopping often sign up for a work-at-home or mystery shopper job. In the case of a scam, the employee's new "boss" asks for a wire transfer or money order for a start-up kit.
Tip: Never pay money to earn money. Consumers should carefully research the job posting and individuals or company contacting you for employment.
Juan Agualimpia, executive vice president of the Scam Awareness Alliance, had the following to say about these scams:
"The Scam Awareness Alliance works year-round to help spread the word about common scams and prevent future victims. I hope all consumers will use the Scam Awareness Alliance as a resource this holiday season and spread the word about these common scams to family and friends. Anyone can fall victim to a scam, and we are working to educate consumers before that happens."