Christmas messages that can cost you everything you own and are all wrapped around the holiday seasons and thieves trying to steal your identity.
Identity theft is at an all time high and is even worse when it comes to the holidays.
Thieves love the holidays because the “pickings” are so abundant and easy.
Here are just a few of the “Christmas Messages” you don’t want to receive and need to be knowledgeable about so you can protect yourself and your loved ones from holiday identity theft scams.
Go to identity theft scams for more scams to become knowledgeable about.
Identity thieves send fake delivery notifications and fake invoices that really look like they have come from your local postal service, UPS and Fed Ex.
These are Christmas messages I don't want to be delivered to my house.
Through email, the thief will require users to give them credit card details to alleged credit accounts, or request they open Customs form or online invoice so they can receive their package.
When this is competed the thief is then able to steal your identity or, automatically install malware on your computer.
Either way, these are not the type of Christmas Messages you want. Your identity is compromised and stolen and the thief wins again.
One of the biggest scams around the holidays happens when you are contributing to charity.
Thieves, or hackers, as they are more commonly known, will send emails that look like they are legitimately sent from a charitable organization when in real-life these are fake web sites that are designed to steal credit card information, donations and your identity.
Thieves love to take advantage of people who send e-cards for the holidays.
McAfee Labs uncovered a worm masked Coca-Cola, McDonald’s promotions and Hallmark e-cards.
PowerPoint e-mail attachments that are holiday themed are very popular with cyber criminals.
Be aware of what you’re clicking into.
A new holiday scam leads the shopper to sites that are malware-ridden and offer luxury gifts from TAG Heuer, Gucci and Cartier, to name a few, that are “discounted”.
These cyber criminals even use logos of the Better Business Bureau that are fraudulent to trick you into buying these expensive products that you never receive.
Be extremely aware of social networks, but especially at this time of the year.
One particular scam that is gaining in popularity is the thief sending very “real” looking “new friend request” emails from one of the social networking sites.
Clicking on one of these emails automatically installs malware on your computer, and enables the thief to steal all your personal information.
Thieves love to stay hidden and attack using the auction sites. Be aware of any deal that appears to be “too good to be real”.
They usually are, and many times the items purchased never reach you.
A thief's dream are packages, when delivered, especially at Christmas, are left on your doorstep.
This allows the thief to not only steal your packages but also steal your identity.
This would cause you to have a very "un-merry" Christmas.
If you work late, or can't be there when the package is delivered, try to make arrangements to have the packages delivered to a relative that may live close by, or a neighbor.
Fed Ex and UPS packages can sit by your door for hours and because of this, criminals are very aware and very enticed by this knowledge.
Please don't leave yourself vulnerable, especially during the holiday season.
Thieves’ love the holidays because it gives them access to a huge mass of people and the more people that are scammed the more profitable it is for a thief.
A thief will use an inexpensive tool to “capture” a person’s password and send out malware that will do what is called “keylogging”. This records your keystrokes.
Once the thief has access to your passwords he can wipe out your bank account and credit cards before you know what hit you.
You may not realize this happened until you check your accounts or statements.
These are just a few of the more common scams that are magnified during the holidays, so please be aware of them so all your Christmas messages can be merry.
How this scam operates. When you make a purchase from a reputable, large website, but before clicking the “confirm” button, a banner ad or pop-up window comes up with an offer such as “$20 Cash Back on Your Next Purchase!”
This program is run by a company that is completely separate.
These programs have harmless names such as “Great Fun”, “Reservation Rewards,” and “Travel Values Plus”, and usually provide a trial period of 30 days during which you receive discounts on numerous services and merchandise.
Every month a membership fee will appear on your credit card bill. The amount is usually $10-$20.
This is done even though you never provided your credit card number to any outside company.
Wow! If this isn’t a scam, I don’t know what is.
Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va, headed a committee to investigate three major companies selling memberships to discount clubs; Webloyalty, Affinion and Vertrue.
Because this scam is everywhere, a bill was introduced by Rockefeller in May to ban the above and other sales practices that are misleading.
In the report, the three companies have promised to mend their ways.
The original site was providing the discount company’s customers’ credit card numbers without the permission of the customer.
Beware of any banner ads, pop-up windows, or any other added-on discounts that come up before you complete your transaction.
Always read the fine print Before you click on any offer.
I know this is a pain to do, but doing so may save you not only money, but stop you from becoming a victim of identity theft.
Many times Web loyalty programs send a notification by email before charging your credit card, so make sure you check your spam folder and email inbox.
If you catch this right away, it should give you enough time to cancel.
This scam is like the energizer bunny and just keeps going. Unfortunately, this problem has picked up speed and is getting stronger and stronger.
Over 15,000 seizures of pirated and fake goods worth over $300 billion were made last year by Border Protection and U.S. Customs.
This turned out to be an all-time high.
A huge number of electronics, accessories, footwear, apparel and, of course the very popular “knockoff” handbags, were some of the most prevalent items to be counterfeit.
There is a direct risk to a customer that receives anything electronic that isn’t the ‘real deal’.
CSA International certifies and tests products and states the “fakes” can have flammable plastic casings, substandard wiring, harmful chemicals such as mercury and lead or faulty fuses.
Phones, computers, gaming devices and numerous other items have been copied illegally.
Some of the most common places these fakes show up are auction sites, deep discount stores, and online shopping.
Many of these have even showed up in the major retail stores.
Some of the fakes are so real looking they even fool the buyer of the stores.
Go to CSA International’s website to see what the real label (certification mark) looks like.
Before you make your purchase, make sure the electronics have all the components; power cords, batteries?
These are just a few of the things to look for. The best way to protect yourself is to buy from a company that has a well-known and respected reputation.
One of my favorite ways to protect myself is to check with the Better Business Bureau at BBB.org and go to reports on businesses and see how the company rates.
I also Google the store in question and add the word complaints to see what I can find out.
This all takes a little time, but it is better to have Christmas messages that are cheerful, rather than Christmas messages that end up saying "Bah, humbug! you've been scammed".
Gift cards that are on display racks are a favorite grab-and-go for a thief.
Department stores, such as Wal-Mart, Target, and grocery stores are some of the more common stores that carry this type of gift card.
The thief uses a handheld scanner and reads the code behind the scratch-off or magnetic strip that’s on the back of the card.
These scanners can be purchased online for $100-$200.
The criminal will combine the code with the number on the front of the card and literally steal the value of that particular card.
We had this scam brought to light in my area and found that, even if the card is not pre-loaded, the security code and card number can be stolen.
Then every few days, the thief can then call the 1-800 number on the back of the card and check out the balance.
Once a customer buys and loads the card with a dollar amount, the criminal will spend it before the customer knows what hit him.
Protect yourself: If you find the magnetic strip has been tampered with, don’t pick that card.
It is also safer to purchase cards that are behind the counter, not out in the open where anyone has access to them.
Always have the cashier scan a pre-loaded card to make sure the full amount is on the card.
Make sure you keep your receipt. If something goes wrong, you have the receipt for proof of your purchase, the amount, and can get a refund.
To learn more about areas that you need to be aware of especially during holiday seasons and more types of "Christmas messages" go to;
Commit Identity Theft - In this economy, it is even more critical than ever to be aware of the areas a thief likes to target. Check out commit identity theft to learn more.
Criminal Identity Theft - Protect yourself from these common places a criminal loves to attack. Check out criminal identity theft.
Holiday Games - Holiday games should be fun for all of us, but thieves have have a much different meaning for this word. To see more go to holiday games.
Holiday Safety Tips - Holidays bring us joy with the expectation of better things to come. Criminals love holidays so they can line their own pockets.
Don't become their next victim. Be aware of precautions to take to make your holidays a time of joy. Go to holiday safety tips to learn more.
These are just a few of the more common scams that are magnified during the holidays, so please be aware of them so all your Christmas Messages can be merry.