So what will you be doing this holiday season to avoid getting scammed? The scammers really come out of the woodwork during the holidays, waiting to snatch their victims. It’s easier than you think to avoid getting ripped off or getting your entire bank account sucked dry. Here’s how to avoid getting tangled in a scammer’s net:
- Always inspect every purchase on your credit card statements to make sure you recognize them.
- If you must go with a lesser-known seller (because the product is very unique), then first Google them for any bad reviews. Keep in mind that raving reviews may have been set up by a scammer, but the presence of bad reviews is very telling. A clue that excellent reviews were set up by a fraudster is that identical ones appear on different sites.
- Back up your data. Why? When all else fails and your data and devices have been destroyed by malware, a cloud backup like Carbonite allows you to not only recover all your data, but it helps you sleep at night.
- Never click a link inside an e-mail that appears to have come from a retailer, UPS, the government, etc. Even if you just purchased something from Amazon, that e-mail “from” Amazon that contains a link is –you can bet on this — the work of a scammer. Clicking on the link may download a virus, or lead you to a site that lures you into giving your credit card number, SSN and other vital data to a cyber thief.
- Sellers can also be victims of scams. A common one is that the buyer overpays the seller with a phony check, pretends it’s an innocent mistake, and then asks you to wire back the difference.
- If you’re buying from individuals instead of businesses (think: eBay), meet potential buyers and sellers in public locations. If you’re buying, inform the seller you’ll initially meet without cash just to inspect the item.