4 Money Scams to Avoid This Holiday Season

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  • This holiday season, be cautious so you can avoid scams. 
  • Charity scams, package delivery scams, and gift exchange scams are some ways thieves can steal your money. 

Thieves are looking to rip you off this holiday season.

The holiday season is near. For many, the holiday season is a time for fun and excitement with family and friends. But at this time of year, scams are also on the rise. 

You may end up parting ways with your hard-earned money if you're not careful. Find out which common scams to watch out for so you can keep your money out of harm's way. 

1. Charity scams

During the holiday season, you may feel inspired to donate to a cause that's important to you. But it's essential to ensure your money goes where you intend for it to go. 

What may look like an excellent opportunity to give back could be a scammer trying to take advantage of your goodwill. 

Charity scams are common during the holiday season, so it's best to be cautious. Before donating money, research to make sure you're supporting a legitimate charity. If something looks questionable or you feel pressured to donate, it's best to keep your money. 

2. Package delivery scams

Another way scammers may target you this holiday season is through package delivery scams. Many Americans shop online and expect packages to arrive at their doorsteps, so delivery messages may appear legitimate. But that may not be the case. 

You may get emails or text messages regarding a package delivery update. However, it could be a fake message from a scammer. 

Usually, a tracking link is included. Once you click the tracking link, you may be asked to update your payment preferences or provide personal information.

These phishing links serve as a way to collect private information, including debit and credit card details, and could put your bank account and even your identity in danger. 

Verify the legitimacy of such messages before clicking on links or providing personal information. If you have a question about the status of a package delivery, you should reach out to the retailer directly. 

3. Gift card scams

Do you plan to give gift cards to friends and family this year? You should be cautious when buying gift cards. 

When you go to a local retailer to buy a gift card, ensure the gift card packaging is intact. If something looks off, don't buy it.

Some scammers collect information from gift cards sold at stores so they can activate the cards and use the loaded funds themselves. 

Once you pay for the gift card, they can use the information they have already collected to use the money on the card before you get to use it yourself. 

Protect yourself by ensuring that any gift cards you buy are sealed and no activation codes are visible or removed. 

4. Fake gift exchanges

Another scam that's popular during the holiday season is fake gift exchanges. 

The Better Business Bureau has cautioned against such exchanges, calling them an illegal pyramid scheme.

How do they work? You may get an email or see a social media post suggesting you participate in a fun gift exchange. You'll be promised gifts sent to you in exchange for shipping gifts to others. 

However, these gift exchanges don't operate as advertised. Participants send gifts, gift cards, or money to strangers and never receive a gift in return. This can result in disappointment and wasted money. 

If you like the idea of participating in a gift exchange, arrange one with your closest friends so you can feel confident your money and gifts aren't going to scammers. 

Be on alert this holiday season 

Anyone can fall victim to a scam -- especially online. 

Be cautious this holiday season and take steps to protect your identity and money. If you're unsure, ask a trusted family member or friend what they think first before clicking a link or filling out a form. 

Otherwise, you could become the victim of fraud, which could delay you reaching your personal finance goals. 

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