Scammers love a holiday, and all types of hoaxes tend to increase during the holiday season. The most common schemes to watch out for include:
Charity scams: Bogus charities claiming to benefit disaster victims, sick children, police, firefighters and veterans and are among the most successful schemes, especially in duping older donors.
To avoid being scammed, don’t click on attachments or links in solicitation emails, which can unleash a virus into your computer. Ask callers for the organization’s phone number, then call the number to make sure a campaign is underway. Authenticate charities by checking names and reputations at the Wise Giving Alliance (operated by the Better Business Bureau), Charity Navigator or GuideStar, or by contacting the state agency that regulates charities where you live. Never provide a credit card number to telemarketers and beware of any group that offers to send a courier to pick up cash or a personal check at your home.
Benefit scams: According to the Better Business Bureau, some scams promise cash payouts for pensions, but typically pay only 30 to 40 percent of their actual worth. Other hoaxes involve self-proclaimed "advocates" who promise benefits by transferring retirement assets into an irrevocable trust.
Beware of official-sounding names, and don’t depend on nursing homes, community centers and assisted living facilities to protect you; often they are paid a fee to let volunteers give presentations.
Car scams: Another ruse involves classified ads offering cars or other items in exchange for an upfront payment that never materializes.
Make sure you see the car and test drive it. Check Edmunds.com or Kelley Blue Book for realistic pricing information by vehicle year, make and model – and check out local inventory via AutoTrader.com. Get a photocopy of the vehicle title and registration, and do a CarFax check of its vehicle identification number to ensure its existence, location, and accident and repair history.
Source: AARP New York
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