The busiest time of the season is right here at our door! Our focus is to finish our Christmas shopping, to prepare the Christmas decorations, and to stretch ourselves as thin as possible to get all the other “Holiday Stuff” done. It is also a time of year with a lot of scams and fraud.
Two thirds of Canadians shop on-line and average spending is about $750, according to the Huffington Post. By the summer of 2015, 33,016 Canadians filed complaints of mass marketing fraud, of which 9,381 Canadians reported being victimized. Total reported losses were over $43.5 million.
Here are some tips to protect you from being a scam victim, courtesy of the Better Business Bureau (Video & Article).
1. Be careful of e-cards. Don’t open anything from unrecognised senders. E-cards can be an effective method for transmitting computer viruses.
2. Be suspicious of the call from a stranded grand kid. A common scam involves targeting seniors by pretending to be grandkids stranded in a foreign country and in need of money. I’m not suggesting you should be a Scrooge to a loved one in need, but if a family member is truly stranded, chances are other relatives will be able to confirm this. Always verify the story with someone else in the family before sending money overseas.
3. Be careful of stolen gift cards. Don’t buy discount gift cards on-line or from individuals. These cards may be used or stolen – essentially worthless pieces of plastic.
4. Avoid identity theft from Santa scammers. Around Christmas, several websites offer a letter from Santa to your kids. While some of these sites are legitimate, others are simply a con to get your personal information. If Santa knows if you’ve been bad or good, there’s no reason to give him your date of birth and your mother’s maiden name.
5. Be aware of unsolicited vacation offers. This scam involves someone contacting you, usually by phone, to advise you that you have won a trip somewhere, and all you have to do is provide a credit card number to secure the prize. You have as much chance of taking that trip as you have of flying around the world in Santa’s sleigh!
6. Be wary of puppy sales around Christmas. Ensure the legitimacy of the breeder and health condition of a puppy. Remember, the Three Wise Men brought gold, frankincense and myrrh, not Dalmatians, Shih Tzus, and Pugs.
7. Keep an eye out for fake charities. You may think your donation is going to improve the life of Tiny Tim, when in fact it’s really going into someone else’s pocket. Be sure to check the BBB Charity Review before you give donations.
Also, please keep in mind that reporting scams and fraud is very important. This can be done by contacting the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre on-line by visiting the CAFC website or by calling 1-888-495-8501.