If you want to have a merry, merry holiday season, be sure to be on the lookout for scam artists.
Just because it’s the time of year for good cheer doesn’t mean that fraudsters are going to take a vacation from ripping off consumers.
Here are the 12 scams of Christmas as offered by the software security company McAfee.
1. “Help! I’ve been robbed” phony distress messages from “family members” or “friends.”
2. Fake gift cards promoted on social media.
Holiday job offers for “high-paying,” work-at-home schemes that ask for your personal information, including your Social Security number.
3. “Smishing,” SMS texts that appear to come from your bank or online retailer saying something is wrong with an account.
4. Suspicious holiday rentals that ask for down payments on properties by credit card or wire transfer.
5. Recession scams such as pay-in-advance offers where consumers pay a processing fee for a supposedly low-interest loan or credit card.
6. Fake greeting cards that load computer viruses onto your computer.
7. Low price traps such as auction sites and fake websites that offer too-good-to-be-true deals to get your money and personal information.
8. Fraudulent charities that ask you to donate.
9. Dangerous holiday downloads – such as screensavers, jingles, and animations – that spread viruses.
10. Free hotel and airport Wi-Fi, which thieves use to hack into networks.
11. E-mail banking scams in which scam artists trick consumers into giving their bank details by sending official-looking e-mails.
12. Password stealing scams where hackers get control of your computer and hijack files.
So happy holidays, and beware of the bad guys and gals interested in separating you from your money.
Copyright 2010, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist