Did you have a jolly holiday? Were you on guard and aware of holiday scams? The thieves know this is the best time of year for them to prosper. You are probably not on your guard as much and can be somewhat distracted. Here is a list the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) top five tips.
1. Check the Better Business Bureau’s website at www.bbb.org before shopping with a business online. You want to makes sure this business exists, has a physical address and phone number.
2. Be cautious when dealing with free bulletin board sites or auction sites. Conduct transactions in person from free bulletin board sites such as Craigslist. Deal with someone locally, don’t meet them alone, and never wire money. Look at ratings and reviews of the sellers at auction sites like eBay.
3. Keep track of your wallet, purse and all your cards. Thieves are waiting for a chance to snatch your wallet when you are distracted. Make sure you cover the keypad when you use your PIN for purchases or at an ATM. Don’t forget to put your card back in your wallet and in the same place, so you will know when it is missing.
4. Research charities at www.give.org before you donate. This site helps you verify the validity of the charity and that it delivers on its promises. Don’t donate to a charity on the spot; you don’t know where the money is going. There are new charities that sprout up during the holiday season, that are not legitimate.
5. Don’t open links or attachments on emails until you know they aren’t malicious. Hackers try to break into your computer through these methods; many use familiar company names like UPS or FedEx claiming to have tracking information on package shipments. Some of the triggers are email addresses that don’t match, typos, and grammatical errors. If you receive an email from a company you don’t know, don’t open it. It also helps to have antivirus software on your computer.
Credit Reporting Expert, John Ulzheimer, is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. Follow him on Twitter here.