Tired of hearing warnings about holiday scams? Of course you are, but the holiday season stretches into January and the pickings are ripe for the scam artists for whom this really is the most wonderful of the year.
Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto is the latest to round up her favorite collection of warnings and cautionary notes.
“In addition to family fun and shopping outings with loved ones, it is also unfortunately the season for scams,” Masto said. “Criminals will take advantage of those with generous hearts and good will this holiday season. Nevadans should be cautious of fraud this time of year and make sure their purchases are made through legitimate businesses and that donations help legitimate organizations.”
Criminals are becoming even more sophisticated by sending text messages, called SMiShing, a term that combines “SMS” and “phishing”. Fraudsters send a text, supposedly from the recipient's bank, informing them that their debit card has been locked. They are asked to reply to the text message and are eventually asked to give out their debit card number and in some cases, even a social security number.
The text is a scam and any information given to the fraudsters will be used to clean out the victim’s bank account. Do not respond to any such text message. Call your bank using the numbers on the back of your debit card if you have any questions.
Tips to avoid identity theft and fraud:
- Never give out personal or financial information over the phone.
- Thoroughly review all financial statements for any unusual activity. Immediately contact the company if an item looks suspicious.
- Shred or destroy credit card statements, bills, insurance papers or bank statements before throwing them out.
- When making a credit card purchase, ask for the carbons if the retailer is not using carbonless forms.
- Carry only one or two credit cards in your wallet.
- Do not carry your social security card in your wallet.
- Be wary of anyone calling to “confirm” personal or financial information. Often, these are criminals trying to obtain those facts under the guise of “confirmation”.
- Share your social security number only when absolutely necessary or when required by law.
- When creating passwords and PINS, do not use anything that could be discovered easily by thieves.
- Memorize all your passwords and PINS.
- Keep a list or photocopy of all your credit cards, so you can quickly contact your creditors in case your cards are lost or stolen. Do the same with bank accounts.
- Never toss ATM and credit card receipts in a public trash container.
- Watch the mail when you are expecting a new credit card. Immediately contact the issuer if the credit card does not arrive.
- Avoid paying by credit card if you think the business does not use adequate safeguards to protect your personal information.
- Be careful before you use a credit card or supply personal information online.
Tips to avoid charitable donation scams:
- Contact an independent organization like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to determine if a charity has a good reputation. You can also checkwww.givewell.org and www.charitynavigator.org.
- Never give a charitable contribution in response to a telemarketing call.
- Decline to give personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions.
- Make contributions directly to known organizations, rather than relying on others who claim in e-mails that they will channel the donation to established groups.