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New scams to watch out for this holiday season

·Senior Producer/Reporter

With holiday shopping season in full swing, not only are retailers after your dollars, but so are scammers.

Last year alone, there were over two million fraud complaints reported, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network, with consumers paying over $1.6 billion. To better protect yourself, Amy Nofziger of AARP’s Fraud Watch Network says it’s important to be on high alert.

Here are some of the latest scams she says you need to know:

1. Parcel delivery scam

A new scheme to beware of is fake parcel pick-up notices that are either taped to your door or sent as an email notification. The message on the notice will state there was an unsuccessful attempt to deliver a package to your home and prompts you to call a number or visit a website for more information. Nofziger says this is a likely method of collecting your personal information, putting you at risk for identity theft.

No legitimate delivery service will require your credit card information in order to obtain the package. Do not click on the link or call the phone number listed. Instead, check the name of the business online and verify the phone number, especially if it looks like an international phone code is used.

2. Fake online shopping sites

Victims of this scam will click onto fake shopping websites through emails or links posted by others on social media sites. Scammers take the logos and images from reputable shopping sites and mimic or alter the domain name just slightly. For example, last year the Better Business Bureau shut down many fraudulent sites that inserted the word “overstock” in the url.

Side-by-side comparison of how scammers mimic reputable retailers via email.
Side-by-side comparison of how scammers mimic reputable retailers via email.

When you’re shopping online, look for the “s” in “https” in the URL – that means you’re on a secure website. As you’re checking out of any online retailer, look for this security before entering any of your credit card or personal information.

If you’re shopping on a new site, look for a return policy and contact information, including a real address and a toll-free customer service. To be extra cautious, you can check the name of the business on the Better Business Bureau’s site.

3. Draining gift cards

Thieves who steal gift card numbers visit a gift-card rack and secretly jot down or electronically scan the account numbers and pin numbers on both sides of the card.  They then register the card online, waiting for you to load up the card so they can drain the funds.

When making gift card purchases, carefully examine the packaging to see if part of it has been ripped or torn. On the physical card, check both sides to see if it has been tampered with, paying close attention to scratch-off area for the pin number. If anything looks suspicious, alert the store manager right away and pick out another gift card. Keep your receipt as proof of purchase until the card’s value has been exhausted.

To learn more about how to protect yourself, check out AARP’s Fraud Watch Network or call their toll free number to speak with their trained fraud frighters: 877-908-3360.

What are some new scams you know of? Tell us in the comments below or email us at YFmoneymailbag@yahoo.com.