Unfortunately, scammers are capitalizing on parents’ desire to make Christmas memorable for their children. Recently, scammers set up fake Facebook pages, Instagram sites and Twitter profiles offering “giveaways” to people who followed them and downloaded a “fan app.” There was nothing given away. Worse yet, the fan app was a piece of malware that stole personal information and transmitted it to scammers.
This is the most recent in a round of scams featuring the popular toy. These tips will help keep you safe as you browse the web for holiday gifts.
1.) Never download anything you don’t need
When people are tricked into installing something on their computer, they can unknowingly send personal information to a scammer.
Before you click any downloadable link, ask yourself three questions:
- Do I know the company that produced this software?
- Do I trust the person who sent the link?
- Do I need this software for my daily life?
If the answer to any of those questions is “no,” close the browser immediately. If you doubt the safety of a piece of software, don’t download it.
These rules apply for every device you use. Often scammers will intentionally targeted mobile users. Your phone has as much personal information on it as your PC does; safeguard both!
2.) Double-check when shopping online
Many scammers have taken a more conventional route: They promise goods, take the payment, then don’t deliver the goods. While this scam is common year round, the holiday-shopping insanity makes more people more vulnerable.
More insidiously, scammers have been posting “black market” toys. Factory defects are sold at many times the retail prices, even on reputable websites like Amazon. To avoid this scam, check reviews for the account. If someone’s selling a new toy or product but they’ve never sold anything before, it’s likely they’re running a scam.
If you must shop secondhand, try to deal locally. Never send payment through unsecured means, like a cashier’s check or wire transfer. Meet your buyer in a public place, and always inspect the goods before paying.
3.) Read the reviews before the hype
Reviews are written for a reason: to help you avoid faulty products and planned obsolescence.
Stick to products and toys that not only have high reviews, but several reviews. A product that has five stars but only one review should be a red flag.
Ask your children what they really want for Christmas; it may surprise you. Find something they’ll really treasure. They, and your pocketbook, will thank you!
Don’t forget that building great holiday memories doesn’t cost a dime. You just need to spend time together! Happy Holidays!