By: SIERRA SMALLS-GREER
(Gainesville, Ga.) – During the holidays, it is normal to go shopping with friends and see the Salvation Army representatives standing outside of stores. You may also be used to someone calling your home phone asking if you would like to donate to the insert-organization-name-here to help insert-cause-here. Unfortunately, you may also be used to seeing the family standing outside with a sign asking for a few dollars.
It’s the holidays so of course we are in the giving spirit, but I am here to tell you that many of those things you see are FAKE. This article is intended to give you tips on how to protect yourself from Holiday Scams in 2014.
Keep your credit and debit cards safe. We all love the accessibility of the credit card swipe while holiday shopping, but so would the person who is checking out behind you in the line. You can try and cover your pin number for your debit card, but the best and only way to truly protect your credit is to go to the bank before holiday shopping. Simply withdraw the amount you’re going to need for the day directly from a teller. Otherwise, people can find many ways to copy your credit card number. And often times, you won’t even find out about it until the first of the year.
Keep track of your bank statements. If you absolutely must use your credit card, it would be beneficial to check online bank statements every night after card use. This way, you can catch mistakes right away and dispute them if necessary.
Avoid filling out sweepstakes forms that ask for personal information. We all want to save money or make more money during the holiday season, but if the form asks for your social security and credit card number… most likely it is a SCAM! Think about it, why would they need your social and card number to enter you into a contest or pay you? They could easily send a check in the mail.
Do not give your personal information out over the phone. If someone is asking for your social security number and credit card information over the phone, especially during the holidays, it is again, most likely a scam.
For all the thrifters out there, be careful who you buy from! It always seems like a good idea to buy used items from places like Craigslist, craft or revamp them and gift them, but this could be a dangerous venture for any time of the year, especially the holidays. If you decide to take this approach, take someone with you when meeting your seller in a public place!
Last but not least, GIVE! With all the scams out there, it is important to protect yourself but there are some people out there who really are in need of your help. If you want to share some of your big heart, then go out to accredited businesses and donate your time and money.
Do something special for someone you know personally in need or send a care package to a soldier.
If you choose to help someone on the street with a few dollars, you will ultimately be blessed with good karma; you have done your part and that is all that matters…. But if they drive off in a brand new mercedes then you’re in trouble!