A survey conducted by AARP found that African Americans encounter lottery, government imposter and work-from-home work from home scams more than any other group. However, the numbers might be higher than we realize because The Federal Trade Commission says there could be an underreporting of fraud among the Black community. These statistics are especially important to be aware of as the holidays approach – a particularly active time for scammers.
There are many reasons people can be more susceptible to scams around the holidays. For one thing, the spirit of giving is high, so one might be looking for ways to donate a bit of cash and that’s a fact scammers capitalize on. There’s also a big increase in online shopping, and the online retail world is rich with scams. Don’t let scammers take advantage of your holiday spirit. Here are ways to protect yourself against holiday scams.
Research New Retailers
It’s always great to take an interest in small businesses and explore brands besides the big name ones. In fact, if that’s important to you, you can check out our list of verified small Black-owned businesses to handle some of your holiday shopping needs. But when shopping from a brand you know nothing about, always do your research before handing over your credit card information. In some cases, the company and the product do not exist at all. They just disappear with your credit card information or bank information and rob you. Look up the company. Make sure they have plenty of (good) reviews from people who can verify they did receive their item.
Research Charitable Organizations
This is the time when you might receive plenty of donation solicitations. Many are from legitimate organizations, but some are not. Scammers often take advantage of holiday generosity, and are good at generating fake telephone listings and companies to make it appear as if they’re calling from a legitimate organization. Never give your credit card information to anyone who contacts you for a donation. If you are interested in making a donation, do your own research. Make sure they are legitimate. There are several websites that help you check the validity and integrity of a non-profit, including Give.org, GuideStar.org and Charity Navigator. Here are some great verified organizations you can donate to that support Black women.
Never Wire Money
Never wire money directly to any online retailers. There is no reason for an online retailer not to have a system set up for customers to use a credit card. Remember that for most major credit card companies, you are never held responsible for fraud, so even if a fake company makes off with your money, you can typically see a reimbursement from your credit card company. However, once you wire money from your checking account, that money is gone forever. And in some cases, scammers can then clean out your entire account.
Avoid Unreal Deals
If a deal seems too good to be true, it likely is. Beware of pop up ads offering $300 designer bags for $20. Often, by clicking on these, the scammers can install malware in your computer and steal personal information including banking information. At other times, they’ll accept your credit card information and have you fill out forms as if you’re placing an order. That order will never arrive, and the scammers will have your credit card info.
Buy Discounted Gift Cards With Caution
Buying discounted gift cards can help you save a lot of money if these are the types of presents you like to give out. However, be sure to use verified discounted gift card sites with a good reputation and with real customer service. Don’t simply buy one off of someone on Craigslist or social media. You might receive an empty gift card, and never see your money again. In some cases, when you type the gift card number into your computer for online shopping, the scammer might gain access to your personal information. Don’t forget to make use of credit card rewards programs during the holidays – many of which let your points go further when purchasing a gift card. For example, your 2,000 points might be worth $20 when redeemed as cash back or worth $25 if used in the credit card portal to buy a gift card.
Beware Of Holiday Gigs
Many individuals are looking for ways to earn a little extra cash during the holidays – another fact scammers pounce on. Only look for jobs from verified job listing sites. These sites vet opportunities before posting them to their platform. If you grab a little phone number off of a telephone pole or respond to an add on social media, the scammer might have you fill out forms with personal information for a job that does not exist.
There are a lot of holiday giveaways that go on this time of year, and scammers like to squeeze their way into the chaos to see what they can get away with. If you receive a call, text or email stating that you’ve won a free…iphone/cruise/hotel stay…that you never applied for, ignore it. If it comes in the form of a text or an email, clicking the link could allow the scammer to install malware in your phone. If you receive a phone call from a person, they might ask for your credit card information just for “service fees,” and then steal your credit card info.
Don’t Accept Unexpected Deliveries
Everybody loves to get surprise deliveries during the holidays. So scammers take advantage of that with their fake delivery con. What happens is that you receive a text saying that your delivery is on its way, but you need to click this link and fill out a form before the driver can hand you the package. In some cases, clicking the link installs malware on your phone. In other cases, you give away personal information that the scammer then takes. There is no reason that any delivery company would need you to fill out personal information to drop off a gift.