The Holiday season is the time-of-year when family and friends join together to celebrate, to give and to receive. The month of December is one of the busiest shopping and donating months of the entire year. Unfortunately, it is also the time when scammers most often prey on the good nature and hectic schedules of consumers.
By all means, enjoy the Holiday season, but take extra precautions because scams taken place during the Holiday season can last much longer than the month of December.
The following is a BBB Checklist to help avoid fraud, scams and theft this Holiday season and beyond:
1. Take only the essentials when out shopping.
· Drivers License
· Cash or card to pay with
2. Do not carry your Social Security Card or number
· If you have trouble remembering your social security or other account number, disguise them with other numbers, such as a phone number or zip code.
3. Get all guarantees and warrantee information in writing and signed if possible.
4. Avoid using money wiring services such as Money Gram and Western Union.
5. When purchasing gift cards, purchase cards held behind a counter or cash register, NOT cards in isles or set-alone stands in the store.
6. If financing a purchase, read and understand the terms, particularly the interest terms, prior to signing.
· Often higher interest rates will kick-in after a certain period of time if the purchase is not already fully paid off.
7. Although it is the Holiday spirit, do not give donations to individuals, not-for-profits or businesses before learning where your money will go and what it will be used for. The BBB maintains reports on charities and not-for-profits as well as businesses at bbb.org.
8. Place a lock on your social security number. This is a free service by the state of Indiana. For more information contact the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office.
9. Use your credit card when purchasing online rather than your debit card.
· You debit card allows direct access to your checking account while most credit cards come with fraud prevention and forgiveness.
10. Remember, a bank will never initiate contact with you over the phone regarding your account information. If you receive a phone call or text from a bank asking for account information, hang up and contact the Better Business Bureau.
· When speaking with a bank, always take the front door approach. This means if you receive a phone call, tell the caller that you will call them back and then dial the phone number you have for your bank and ask about the previous phone call. Therefore, you always know exactly who you are talking to.
For more BBB Holiday Tips and Advice, please visit http://www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-holiday/