Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest shopping days of the year. With so many holiday sales being offered and only so many days left till Xmas, shoppers flood the stores and the internet in droves. And so do scammers.  In the fever for trying to find the best deals, be on the lookout for scam artists, con artists, and thieves.

Black Friday Risks:

  • Never leave your purse or wallet unattended. It only takes a few seconds for a thief to take your purse/wallet in an unattended cart while you step away to examine a potential gift.
  • Never let your credit card out of your sight. Skimming machines and devices that record your card information are small and easily hidden in a palm, under the counter, or implanted in a machine. Never let a salesman take your card some place where you can’t see what they are doing with it. This also applies to fast-food and drive-thru and restaurants.
  • The holidays are the time when people will ask you to fill out surveys or other forms for the chance to win a car or a trip to an exotic location. Be careful if you fill these out. Often times these places are actually gathering information on you. Never give them your social security number, driver’s license number or banking information.
  • The holidays are the time for giving and many charities are out collecting for their cause. There is never anything wrong with donating to a reputable organization, but scammers are out in force as well. Avoid giving checks or credit cards when making a donation. A thief can use this information to scam you in the future. When in doubt, donate physical items such as toys or clothing, or look up the company online and see if they are reputable. Many charities have a “donate here” button on their website so that you can send the money or items directly to them without a middleman.

Cyber Monday Risks:
With so many websites offering such great deals and scrambling for your attention it’s hard to decide what ads are legitimate and which ones are not. But if you keep the following in mind you can be safe in your online shopping.

  • Try to shop at reputable websites such as sites that you have been to before or have a high rating with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Avoid clicking on pop ups. They may look like they are from a legitimate store, but they could be a ploy to take you to another site designed to get your financial information.
  • Never give your social security information online. You do not need to give this information when purchasing an item online.
  • Be on the lookout for emails telling you that you owe money to sites you have never been to. Check to see if this company actually exists. If so, see if there is an account under your information. Often scammers will pose as a legitimate company in order to trick people into giving up their information
  • Be on the lookout for emails claiming to be from a charity organization. Many scammers will pose as a charity in order to prey on holiday good will. When in doubt, look up that charity with the BBB or find their actual website and donate to them directly. Do not use the information in the email.

And remember, always check your credit card statements at the end of the month and check your debit card purchases at least once a week. This is the best way of catching fraudulent transactions and reporting them immediately.

If you found this information helpful, you may want to consider taking part in the Identity Theft Resource Center’s Anyone3 fundraising campaign.  For more information or to donate please visit http://www.idtheftcenter.org/anyone-3.