By Luanne Kadlub
On the twelfth day of Christmas, the scammers gave to me:
Twelve malware e-cards
Before sending holiday e-cards to friends and family, make sure you’re not using a bogus website that tucks in viruses and malware along with holiday greetings. If you receive an e-card from someone you don’t know (or trust), don’t open it.
Eleven stranded grandkids
When your grandson or granddaughter calls and claims to be out of the country and in dire straights and asks you to wire a couple thousand dollars or more to help out, and please don’t tell the parents, know that you’re on the other end of what has become a way-too-common scam. If there is any doubt, call the grandchild directly or call their parents. Just don’t wire money.
Ten counterfeit gifts
Fakes are sold online and on the street and just about everywhere in between.
How can you tell if it’s really a Gucci handbag or a Rolex watch? If the price is too good to be true, it’s a knock-off.
Keep your money and credit cards securely on your person. Be vigilant when in large crowds. Don’t flash wallets filled with bills.
Eight stolen gift cards
Look for signs of tampering before purchasing gift cards and to be extra safe request a card from behind the counter. If you’re the recipient, use the card as soon as possible.
Seven fake coupons
It’s illegal to buy, sell, transfer, copy, auction or exchange coupons. All constitute fraud. If you have any questions about the validity of a hot coupon you come across visit couponinformationcenter.com where you’ll find a list of counterfeit coupons.
Six Santa scammers
What could be more jolly than a letter from Santa addressed directly to your child? If you ask Santa to send your child via email, make sure the website is real and not gathering your data for identity theft purposes.
Five fake charities
Charities count on end-of-the-year giving, so be generous if you can. But be careful, too, because scammers set up fake charities with similar-sounding names of charities with great reputations. Check local and national charities at http://www.bbb.org/search/
Four bogus websites
It’s easy to mimic a legitimate website complete with accurate logos and everything. Red flags: URL is incorrect and uses“http” instead of the more-secure “https,” no contact information, asking for payment by wire or money card, and misspellings and/or incorrect grammar.
Three travel scams
Bargains for travel now or later are tempting. Be cautious when booking through online ads, never wire money to someone you don’t know and ask for references.
Two phony loves
Everyone wants a special someone under the mistletoe, so holidays are prime time for scams. Be careful with an online sweetheart who gets cozy too fast or asks for money.
And a totally fictitious puppy
Be careful buying pets online, especially at the holidays. You may get a puppy mill pooch with problems, or you may get nothing at all. Instead, check out local shelters for puppies in need of “furever” homes.
Start With Trust. For more consumer tips and information, visit wynco.bbb.org.