The Con Artists Don’t Take the Holidays Off

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It’s Holiday Season, Do You Know Where Your Wallet Is?

While it’s worth remembering all year long, it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves that the holiday season brings our the best and worst in people.

The con artists will be out in full force this year.

Here are some tips that will help you get through the holiday season safer and hopefully with your wallet and credit card intact.

1. When shopping in brick and mortar stores, watch your wallet and purse.  Pick pocketing is still a thriving occupation.

2. When you take your purchases to your car, stow them in the trunk.  If you go back into the store or mall, you’re leaving an invitation for a broken window and missing packages when you return.  I put my things in the trunk, then move the car so anyone who is watching thinks I’m leaving.  OK, I’m paranoid; I also don’t like sitting with my back to a window or door.

3. Watch the people around you when you check out.  It’s easier than ever to use a cell phone to take a picture of your credit card while you’re at the register.

4. If you’re purchasing a gift card, pick one at random from the display.  Con artists will take a card or two, steal the information from it and put the card back onto the display.  Then wait patiently for the card to become activated so they can use it to shop online.  Also, don’t buy cards online unless you know the seller.  Sometimes, worthless cards are sold online.

5. Tis the season for heartache and charity scams.  Be especially careful with your email messages.  Return addresses and organization names are easily forged.  Beware of similar sounding organization names; Make a Wish Foundation is not Leave a Wish Foundation.  You get the idea.  Know your charities.

6. Don’t wire money to Joey in England who can’t get home for Christmas because he lost his wallet.  (Unless you know Joey is your son and you spoke to him on the phone.)

6. Did you get an email from a charity and the request came from a Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail account?  Any organization worth your donations has its own domain name and email system.  Be suspicious of any charity with a free email address.

7. One last low tech reminder.  Don’t leave you purse or wallet where it’s visible.  Years ago, my mother had her purse stolen from beside her desk when she was away for just one minute.  The thief walked into the office, picked up the purse and was gone before anybody came back to the front.

Have a safe, happy and healthy holiday season.