Issue 23Living Smart
Holiday Financial Advice
Scams to Watch Out for This Holiday Season
With the holiday’s quickly approaching, many if not all of us will be traveling, shopping, etc. We will have so many things happening that we will be feeling as if we are being pulled in every direction and could lose focus on what’s going on.
While we are getting gifts for our loved ones, don’t forget that there are scams* like this being passed around:
You receive an official-looking email stating that your electronic payment information needs to be updated because it is out-of-date. You are provided with a link and/or phone number to give your current credit card information, Social Security number, etc.
Preventing it Vital information should never be given out in response to an email request, no matter how legitimate the request looks. When you receive an email like this, call the company.
Video Software Scam:
A “click bait” video with an enticing title is posted via social media. When you click on the video, you are notified that you are missing the proper software to watch this clip. You are then directed to a different site to download this special software, which turns out to be malware designed to steal your personal information from your computer or device.
Preventing it Think about what is you are clicking on and how well you know what you are getting yourself into. This is especially important if you do a lot of your shopping online and you see an ad that you find interesting.
Skimming the ATM:
A thief swipes your card through a hand-held device or through an overlay swipe device on an ATM. This device collects information off the magnetic stripe on the back of the card and the thief copies the security codes from your card to a fraudulent card and sells it to a counterfeiter.
Preventing it Be wary of anyone sneaking around the ATM. Also, check the scanner by pulling on it and see if it comes lose or looks and feels different compared to the rest of the ATM. It doesn’t happen often but it is something to beware of.
*This is just a fraction of the scams that happen all the time, but these are the most popular scams at this time of year. Your identity is very important and preventing identity theft should be a top priority.
Rebounding After the Holidays
Control Your Credit Cards
Everyone abuses their credit cards during the holiday season, partly because of convenience and partly due to poor planning. If you have overused your cards, hide them from yourself in January. You should take them out of your wallet and put them somewhere they can’t do any further harm. Make it hard on yourself to use your credit card in January, or possibly longer.
If you are someone who is addicted to online shopping, here is something that you can do to avoid the temptation. Do not save your credit card information at the sites that you frequent most. This way, you will have to fill out online forms and submit your information again, which gives you time to spot what you are doing and not go through with it.
Don’t be tempted by post-holiday sales. Find something else to do, preferably something that’s free. Many people are baited by sales in January and think that it’s a good idea to get a little more shopping in before reality sets in. Avoid the malls, your favorite online stores, and spending money on things you do not really need.
Start Tackling Your Debt
Your goal is to pay back all of the credit card debt you have incurred over the holidays by April, which believe it or not, is very possible if you tighten your budget a bit and watch your spending.
It’s always a good idea to make a plan and put it to paper. Keep a piece of paper with this information on it hanging on your refrigerator to remind you.
Prepare Early for Next Year
Once you have paid off your debts, it’s time to start saving for next year so that your next January can be more enjoyable.
Put some money away every month in order to have a nice amount of cash waiting for you when the holiday season comes around again. You’d really be surprised at how much 25 dollars a week can add up by the time December rolls around.
With proper planning and dedication to the cause you will be able to quickly recover from your holiday financial crisis and start learning from your mistakes in order to avoid repeating the same scenario next year.