October 1, 2016

Christmas Shopping Scams: What to Watch Out For!

For most people Christmas is the time of giving, when families and friends come together to exchange gifts, eat, drink and be merry. Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous individuals in the world who see the festive season as nothing more than the opportunity to cheat people into giving them their money.

Below you will find some of the more common scams that start appearing during the holiday seasons, but they are by no means the only ones you should look out for. Just remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Sales Emails

It is getting easier than ever for webmasters to acquire lists of email address' through both legal and illicit methods, this means that con-artists of all sorts are sending out more spam sales and special offer emails then ever before. In the holiday season this gets kicked into absolute overdrive, with hundreds of millions of unsolicited emails going out everyday.

How to protect yourself:

Never buy something from a sender whose emails you did not ask to receive: not only is there a high chance of you being scammed, but you also open yourself up for further spam due to you confirming your email address was active, not to mention the possibility of identity theft (depending on how many personal details you get forced into handing over during the course of your transaction).

False Charities

Charities love sending people out door to door for sponsorship drives, because it's one of the most effective ways for them to generate money. Whether its in person, via the mail or on the phone, charities are always out asking for peoples money and the holiday season is traditionally the best time of year for them to find new donors.

Sadly, according to the FTC, a significant number of charities that will come knocking on your door this holiday season will be nothing more than scams. Often the people out collecting money have no idea the 'charity' they are working for isn't actually a charity at all - which just goes to show how devious these con-artists can be.

How to protect yourself:

If you do want to give to charity this holiday season, donate your money to a recognized charity and make sure to do it via official channels.

eBay

Don't worry eBay isn't a scam, but it does act as a home for many people that aren't above taking your money and sending you a photograph instead of a laptop. It can get particularly bad during the holiday seasons, as scam sellers start to appear on mass, using throw-away accounts (ones with no previous history) to offer high-end goods at bargain basement prices, without ever having the intention of sending the real item out.

How to protect yourself:

eBay and PayPal can be fairly fickle when it comes to offering buyer protection, so if you do buy something off eBay, try to only do so from a seller with a reasonable on-site history.

Also it's a good idea to make all purchases using your credit card (even if it's via PayPal), as your bank or credit lender will be much more helpful should you find yourself in need to force a refund.

Hard Holiday Season Sell

Ok so hard selling isn't really a scam, but it can feel a bit like one sometimes. I'm sure you can recall a time you where in a shop, a sales assistant comes over and starts spouting out a really heavy handed sales pitch, insisting that you never see that particular item at such a low price again, claiming a deal is too good to miss and for a limited time only, really pushing to try and force you into making a purchase there and then.

How to protect yourself:

The truth is that there will always be other sales, other stores and other offers. Don't let people intimidate you into making a rash decision. Always remember to take a step back when shopping to avoid impulse purchases.

Never buy something the first time you see it, instead go home and do some research about the item on the net, that way you can make an informed decision and get the best deal possible.

Annie is tech blogger for Credit Card Finder, the free, reliable resource giving you lots of useful information on balance transfers as well as other finacial advice and tools.

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