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We have a big reminder for the holiday shopping season, even though it has already kicked off.

Mellody: I want to remind our listeners about seasonal fraudsters and scammers. It has almost become an annual tradition here at Money Monday, but it is important because every year sees criminals come up with new tactics to get ahold of our money or important information. So this morning, i want to go over some of the new scams out there and ways to make criminals are not able to take advantage of us.

What new scams and tactics we are seeing this season?

One of the most effective new methods that scammers are using is fake apps. As the popularity of shopping on our mobile devices has skyrocketed, many retailers have responded by launching apps to make it easier. However, scammers are also building apps, designed to trick us into believing they are a company’s official app or tempt us to use them with promises of discounts

If you download a fake app, it may contain malware, require you to enter personal or financial information, or require you to enter a password, and most people use the same password for their accounts. Once the scammers get their hands on this information, there are many ways they can take advantage of you.

A second tactic that we have seen emerge this year is fake receipts or shipping emails. This method is more specific to the holiday season, as fraudsters count on you not tracking all your holiday purchases. They will send an email receipt or shipping confirmation in the hope that you will click on it. If you do, it will download malware on your computer or phone, which will then collect personal data that can be used to commit credit card or other types of fraud.

Wow, the do sound like they are easy to fall prey to. How do we avoid them?

When it comes to protecting yourself from fraudulent apps, there a few things you should keep in mind. First, before downloading any app, go to the retailer’s official website and see if they promote the app. If they do have an app, they will direct you to the correct source. Second, read the reviews. If the app seems questionable, there is a good chance someone who downloaded it before you might have commented about it. Also, if there are no reviews, do not download it.

An app having no reviews should raise red flags. Third, check for spelling or grammar errors. It might sound strange, but typos are pretty much a sure sign the app is not official. Finally, be aware of how much information it asks for. Some apps go even further than stealing your credit card information, asking for permissions to access to your photos, contacts, location, or social media profiles as well. Simple shopping apps should have no need for this information. If an app does this, delete the app immediately.

In terms of fake receipts, fake shipping confirmation, or other fake emails, if you don’t recognize the sender or the address does not look official, do not open them. You can generally hover over the sender with your cursor to see this information. And whatever you do, do not click on any links in emails you are not certain about.

Are there any other scams we should look out for?

During the holiday season, you should also keep an eye out for fake gift cards and for fake charities. When buying gift cards, you should always check the packaging of the card, and avoid buying cards from individuals trying to sell them. To avoid getting scammed by fake charities, never donate to charities you have not heard of, and never click on links in emails from charities. It is always best to go to a charity’s website to donate.

If we do get scammed, what should we do?

 f you suspect that you may be a victim of fraud, there are a few things you should do. First, if involves financial information, you should call your bank and your credit card companies so they can put a hold on your account to prevent further charges on your accounts. Always call your bank and card company at the number on your most recent statements.

If you have been a victim of financial or identity fraud, you should also file a police report, as your bank and other parties might want a copy of the report at some point. Third, file a fraud alert with the three major credit bureaus. Doing this will require them to add a note to your credit file that states to anyone trying to pull your credit that you have been a victim of fraud, and requests that businesses pulling the credit report call you on one of two phone numbers you provided when you filed the fraud alert.

You should also consider contacting the 3 major credit bureaus and asking them to place a “security freeze” on your credit reports. Adding a security freeze to your credit reporting helps prevent fraudsters from opening accounts using your stolen information. Finally, if the fraud involved a shopping app, please contact google or apple to report the app so that they can take it down.

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