The Holiday Scam Season
I can’t think of a better time than the holidays to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Unfortunately, while community-minded donors are busy opening their wallets to help others, scammers are hard at work trying to take advantage of their giving nature.
This year, I thought I would share some of the scams identified by credit.com to help protect you–and your wallet:
1. Charity Scams
While many of us want to give, we don’t want to be fooled into supporting a fake charity. Thieves often pretend they represent legitimate charities by using email addresses designed to look like well-known charities; or the scammers call at dinnertime when you might make a quick decision to donate so you can get back to your family.
If you’d like to donate, please give directly to the charity of your choice—don’t donate over the phone to an unverifiable person or charity. On our website, ukiahpolice.com, you’ll find several informational links in the Community Support/Charitable Giving Resources section. If you don’t want to review all that information, you could simply donate to a local charity like the Ukiah Food Bank or the Ukiah Valley Christmas Effort. I know these organizations can use every penny we give them, and they will use the money to support our local community.
2. Fake Job Applications
With the holiday rush, companies often hire temporary help. While this helps all involved, it also opens the door for scammers. Be on the lookout for job applications that require disclosing personal information, and if you are applying online, make sure the company you’re applying to really exists. If you believe you’ve been the victim of this scam (or any scam), it’s a good idea to check your credit. You can view your credit scores on Credit.com for free.
3. Holiday E-Cards
Holiday cards can be really fun, and they sure are easier than handwriting addresses and standing in line for stamps. But be careful because fake cards can be sent through hacked or otherwise compromised email address books. Open the wrong holiday e-card and you might be infecting your computer with a virus or providing access to private data.
4. Unsafe Online Shopping
No matter far behind you are on your holiday shopping, avoid using public Wi-Fi to complete online purchases. In fact, you should NEVER use public Wi-Fi and your credit card at same time. Hackers often provide free Wi-Fi or piggy back on it so they can grab your personal information—only use public Wi-Fi to browse the Internet.
5. Smart Phones
If you let your kids use your smart phone, it’s almost impossible to track every click they make. This opens you up to major risk. Letting kids use a family smart phone means allowing any website they happen upon to access your cookies and bookmarks–which can include credit card, password and bank account information we commonly store on our phones.
Allowing anyone other than yourself to use your phone could be courting disaster. Instead of allowing your kids to have access to your phone, consider buying them an inexpensive tablet–or a phone of their own, if they really need one.
I know I might sound like a broken record when it comes to giving, but this couldn’t be more important.
The Ukiah Daily Journal is currently sponsoring its annual Food Bank Fund Drive. These funds help feed local families throughout the entire year when they have nowhere else to turn, so if you’re thinking of giving this holiday season, I hope you consider donating to the Food Bank. Your donations really do make our community a better place for everyone. You can drop off a check payable to the Ukiah Food Bank at the Ukiah Daily Journal office at 617 S. State Street.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.