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Tips on Avoiding Holiday Scams

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The holiday season has officially begun and with it brings a time of happiness and joy, travel, family time, decorating, and shopping. Unfortunately, it also brings with it a time of holiday scams. Thieves find the holiday season a key time to scam entrepreneurs who are busy and distracted, traveling, shopping more than usual, and receiving multiple deliveries to their home offices. Don’t leave yourself open to a typical scam going around this holiday season. BeenVerified is here to help you get ‘in the know’ on the top holiday scams and how to avoid them.

BeenVerified is the leading source of online background checks and helps people discover, understand and use public data in their everyday lives. During the holidays, you can utilize BeenVerified to check on small merchants that you want to do business with.

Top Holiday Scams & How to Avoid Them:

  • Limit Email List Sign Up—As for those hundreds of email lists you’ve signed up for to get the first time purchase discount (such as for new home office supplies), don’t discount what a dedicated thief can do with just those limited pieces of information. Only sign up for lists from vendors you trust and frequent regularly.
  • Invest In An Office Shredder—While the new generation of data breaches that have afflicted companies and consumers alike seem to exist in a world of high-tech software, there are some hardware solutions that can help prevent hackers from getting a leg up on you. Ensure that all of your business’s bills, bank statements, and even presorted junk mail with your name on it gets thoroughly destroyed before being thrown away. Many scams still revolve around obtaining your info through traditional pieces of mail. Better yet, opt out of credit card junk mail here and switch to paperless billing with all of your bills. It will save trees and give identity thieves less of an opportunity to make you and your business a mark.
  • Beware Of Package Delivery Theft—You’d be shocked by how many packages are stolen from the doorstep of homes during the holiday season. With tons of packages arriving and sitting on your doorstep while you’re out running errands or attending meetings, they make a tempting and easy target for thieves. If you live in a city or high-foot traffic area, consider an Amazon Locker or sending your packages to a neighbor you know will be home if you are away from your office for the day.
  • Deter Potential Holiday Time Burglars—Holiday travel leads to empty homes and an increase in home burglaries. According to the FBI, nearly 400,000 homes are burglarized each year during the holiday season. And they aren’t just after what’s under the Christmas tree, they also want jewelry, electronics, guns, phones and cash. Take some common sense steps to deter thieves. Have a neighbor you trust check in on your home. Consider investing in a home security system and a lighting system that will alternate your lights to give the appearance of people being at home. Buy inexpensive window locks and make sure your front doors and door leading to the garage are locked at all times, as most homes are broken into during the afternoon hours.
  • Don’t Fall Prey To Charity Fraud—The season of giving is also the season of taking to a thief. Charity fraud is common this time of year, so use a website like CharityNavigator.org to research charities and their legitimacy. Don’t be afraid of giving back, just use caution and check out ones you aren’t familiar with.
  • Get Key Information From Private/Unknown Sellers—Before you buy your holiday gifts and packages at a great deal from a private seller (such as on Craig’s List) ask for their key identifying information such as full name, address, phone number, etc. With multiple pieces of information, you can cross reference the data on a search and make sure they match up. This will give you the confidence that if something goes wrong with the sale, you’ll have some way of connecting with the seller.
  • Due Diligence When Dealing With Small Merchants—If you’re dealing with a small merchant, you can verify the person is associated with the business by doing a search and connecting their DBA or LLC with the individual’s name. Just confirm the business name and location with the individual who is emailing you. Sometimes you can track their area code back to their area of business as well to help confirm it’s legitimate.  Consider the customer service options the website offers. Check a company’s reputation with the Better Business Bureau, look at review sites, or even search a retailer’s name along with “scam” to see if it checks out. The BBB is also a valuable tool to learn about about new scams circulating.
  • Avoid Online Shopping in Public Places With Wi-Fi—Although coffee shops, grocery stores and other public places may have convenient internet connections, they’re often not secure which could allow someone else to easily access your information.
  • Be Aware Of 3rd Party Companies Tracking Your Online Habits—These companies use data collecting tools and assemble info. into databases in order to sell the data (in addition to shopping habits, gender, age info., they can even locate our physical address via your computer’s IP address. These databases also hold information on personal questions we Google-health, relationship issues, etc.). Prevent this by clearing out your cache, turn off cookie trackers so sites won’t remember you, apply privacy blockers, and select a service that masks IP addresses.
  • If An Offer Looks Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is—This probably goes without saying, but be wary of random links or emails that have unbelievable offers as it could be malware to steal their credentials when they log into banking websites later on. Also beware of door-to-door sales. Fake notifications about package delivery problems are common during the holidays also.
  • Go with Your Gut Feeling—Always use common sense, your intuition, and public data to help inform your decisions during the holiday season and enjoy the time with your family and friends.

Justin Lavelle is BeenVerified’s social media director. BeenVerified was founded in 2007 by Josh Levy and Ross Cohen with a mission to help people discover, understand and use public data in their everyday lives. With millions of app downloads and millions of monthly visitors, BeenVerified is a leading source of online background checks and contact information. BeenVerified allows individuals to find more information about people, phone numbers, email addresses and property records.


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