The holiday season is in full swing, and many of us are preoccupied with a flurry of spending, celebrating and giving – and this busy-ness often puts us at greater risk for holiday scams. Don’t let yourself be too distracted -- protect your financial well-being by being aware of some common scams and using the following tips to have a financially safe and responsible holiday season:
Charity scams: Many of us feel more generous during the holiday season and that can leave us vulnerable to scams masquerading as charities. Before donating, do some research on the charity (especially if you’ve never heard of it, or are uncomfortable with the tactics the organization is using to get you to donate) and confirm that it is registered by checking here.
Be mindful of where you use the strip: Credit cards with magnetic strips are very easy to copy, then create a duplicate of the card and gain access to your credit. Some warning signs of this scam are:
- A cashier takes your card out of sight to process your payment
- You are asked to swipe your card through more than one machine to pay for your purchase
- You notice a device attached to the card slot of an ATM
If possible, pay for your holiday purchases with a card that has chip and PIN technology or with cash.
Keep an eye on your credit: Most of us have a much longer credit card statement in December due to all of our holiday shopping and celebrating. Carefully check your on-line credit card statement daily over the holidays for any suspicious activity. Be sure to look for small charges on your statement as thieves often test the validity of credit cards by charging small amounts ($1 and $2), which the card holder will often not notice.
Data breaches can affect your online shopping: You may be aware of the data breaches that affected top retailers earlier this year. This means that criminals may have access to millions of consumer’s emails and may target those consumers with phishing scams to obtain more information. Be aware of any fraudulent emails claiming to be from reputable retailers that request you to verify any personal or financial information.
Choose your gift cards carefully: Always buy gift cards from established retailers that are on display behind the counter. Gift cards that shoppers have access to are vulnerable to scammers who have the technology to read and store the unique serial numbers. Scammers will wait until the card has been purchased and is activated to start shopping – on your dime. Check the condition of the gift card to make sure it has not been tampered with and includes a gift receipt with the card indicating the card’s value.
Enjoy a safe, happy and scam-free holiday season!
Canada Anti-Fraud Centre
RCMP Scams and Fraud information