Be wary of Holiday scams
(MIAMI, December 12, 2012) – For most of us, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. It is a time of giving and celebrating when families and friends gather to share the old times and the new. Unfortunately, this is also a time when scam artists are very busy trying to find their next victim. So be wary and attentive to your surroundings at all times.
- Online gift scams - When a gift is popular, scammers will advertise the items on bogus websites and on social networks, even if they don’t have the products to sell. Before giving up your money and your credit card information do your research and find out who is on the other side of the computer screen.
- Phony holiday jobs - Scammers are very creative when they’re trying to figure out a way to steal your money. Many times they’ll try to lure you into accepting a holiday work-from-home or mystery shopper job. Before you accept any type of job, find out if the employer is legitimate. If the person offering you the job asks you for money or for your personal information, then by all means walk away, and say no to the offer. You should not have to pay upfront to land a job.
- Counterfeit merchandise - Beware of designer goods at an unrealistic low price. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. If a designer luxury item is priced way below the usual price, beware.
- Holiday screensavers - Some free holiday screensavers are loaded with more than holiday cheer. Holiday screensavers, ringtones, and e-cards can contain malicious viruses. Only deal with established websites. Download mobile apps from official app stores only and read the user reviews before you decide to make the click.
- Online coupon scams and offers - Be wary of irresistible offers. Scammers offer great deals in exchange of your personal information. If you have to provide your credit card information to obtain a coupon code, you’re looking in the wrong sites for coupon clipping.
- Scam text messages - Do not click on any links promising free goods or prizes. Do not reply to the text message and never provide your credit card or social security number. Delete and ignore.
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card – Under federal law, if your debit card is stolen your liability will depend on how quickly you report the loss. If you report the loss within the first two days, you will only be liable for $50. If you don’t do this within this time period, you could be responsible for up to $500 because of an unauthorized transfer. Furthermore, federal law protects you if you need to dispute charges on a credit card but not on a debit card. If you paid cash or debit, the retailer already has your money and there is no guarantee that you’ll get your money back if you’re unsatisfied.
- Never wire money or give out your social security information online - Do not give your social security information to anyone that calls your home asking for it, even if they claim to be from a financial institution.
The Miami-Dade Business Affairs Division encourages all residents to inform themselves about their rights as consumers as part of their preparation for the hurricane season. Consumers who are aware of their rights well in advance of any disaster, and of the scams which often follow in the wake of these events, will be better able to make informed choices.
For more consumer tips, or to check the complaint history of a company, file a complaint or ask consumer-related questions, visit the Business Affairs and Consumer Protection website at www.miamidade.gov/business, or call (305) 375-3677.