Don’t Let Grinches Steal Your Holiday Joy - Be Alert to Scams and Thieves
It may be the season of goodwill and giving, but this is also the season where fraudsters and thieves may up their games. Be vigilant.
*When out shopping, keep your purse and wallet secure. Wearing a zippered crossbody bag or keeping your wallet in your front pocket may be helpful. Don’t get distracted and leave your purse open in the front of a shopping cart or leave your valuables unattended. Some thieves will try and distract you in teams, asking you questions and engaging you in conversation while an accomplice steals your wallet.
*If you must bring valuables out to your car, such as during a marathon shopping spree, lock them in the trunk so that they are not visible for a thief to break in to your car looking for an opportunity.
*Don’t leave your purse on the seat in full view or leave your car unlocked with valuables such as electronics and phones inside. Places like gyms are prime targets for this.
*Don’t flash your cash and make yourself a target. There is no need to wear fancy jewelry, etc. to the stores.
*Check your credit/debit card and banking statements online regularly to see if there are any irregularities. Contact your card company or bank as soon as you notice any issue.
*Be careful about information you give out on the phone or utilizing laptops in public places. For example, never order items in a public place announcing your credit card information - while it may be convenient to do your shopping on your laptop while on the train or via cellphone, you never know who is watching/listening.
*Be vigilant about data security. Don’t send unencrypted emails with personally identifying information or put account numbers in the subject lines of emails.
*Be aware that scammers call on the phone pretending to be grandchildren crying and in some dire situation requiring you to wire money or to purchase green dot cards to get money to get them out of jail or get them home. The scammers are very convincing. Have a family code word that enables you to identify who you are really talking to. Be mindful of romance scams and any other requests you might get online or via email such as sweepstakes winnings or money that someone from a foreign country wants to deposit.
*Another scam that is seen is when people sell things online or in the want ads. Someone will say that they will pay more than the item is worth and send their representative to pick it up. This is likely a money laundering attempt.
*If buying/selling things online, meet in a public place to complete the transaction.
*If hosting an open house or holiday party, lock up personal papers, purses, wallets, money, prescription drugs, and other items. People might use these opportunities to help themselves. You never know who might be hiding a drug problem or seeking to steal an identity or who might be tempted by an easy opportunity. It’s sad to think this way, but it does happen. If attending a party, keep your valuables on you or leave them home.
*Don’t give out your credit card information over the phone to charities that call as you really don’t know who is calling. If they are legitimate, there is no reason why they can’t send you their solicitation by mail. Do some due diligence about where you give - look online and read reviews about the organization.
*Pay attention to elderly friends and relatives. Make sure that someone Is not seeking to take advantage of them.
I know it sounds negative to think this way, particularly at a time of happiness and peace, but it is better to take measures to be safe than sorry. Not everyone is offering tidings of comfort and joy!
The opinions expressed are those of the author. Seek professional advice before taking any action in regard to your finances.
Todd A. Slingerland, CFP®
6 Tower Place Albany, NY 12203
(518) 867-4000 x105 [email protected] www.capitalfinancialplanning.net