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  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Christmas shopping, , , , ,   

    Is your city in the porch pirates’ top 10? 

    Is your city in the porch pirates' top 10?

    Another type of Grinch that wants to ruin your holiday season is the heartless porch pirate. This is the term used for thieves who will steal package deliveries straight from your porch or mailbox. With more and more people eschewing brick and mortar stores for online Christmas shopping, the problem of stolen packages is becoming more and more prevalent. It’s gotten so bad that there’s not a lot of what police departments can do once a package is stolen. If you’ve had a package stolen from your porch, you may think that your city is the worst. However, a study done by a home security company claims to have found the top ten cities where porch pirates are most prolific.

    According to home security company Safewise, they have looked at not only FBI statistics but also web searches for things like stolen or missing packages. They’ve determined that the top ten cities and metro areas for porch pirates are San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Portland, Baltimore, Seattle-Tacoma, Chicago, Austin, Denver, L.A., and Sacramento. Not surprisingly, a number of these cities are large tech hubs where more people tend to buy things online than in stores. Also, California is more represented on this list than any other state.

    It’s better to prevent porch theft than it is to try to recover a stolen package. While a doorbell camera or home security camera may catch the thieves in the act, it doesn’t seem to discourage them from stealing your deliveries. Instead of having packages left at your doorstep, you may want to consider having them delivered to your place of work, or to a neighbor’s house who is home more often. With their permission, of course. You may also want to consider renting a post office box at your local mail supply store. Not only does this give you a street address to use for deliveries, but they can also sign for packages for you. If you’re having an item shipped directly, try to have it delivered at a time when someone will definitely be home. Also, the US Postal Service has many free services available to you to prevent porch piracy such as having your mail held so you can pick it up at the post office.

    Just a few preventative steps will help you have a theft-free Christmas.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Christmas shopping, , , , ,   

    Homeland Security warns of counterfeits for Christmas 

    Homeland Security warns of counterfeits for Christmas

    If you’re looking for a very special Christmas present like a Louis Vuitton bag or a Rolex watch, you have to traverse through the minefield that are counterfeit goods. More often than not, when buying a well-known luxury brand item you’ll have to deal more with fakes then you will the genuine article. Besides being possibly ripped off, the high-end counterfeit goods market has been linked to every type of criminal activity from human trafficking to organized crime and funding terrorism. In the past year alone, the Department of Homeland Security has confiscated over $500 million in counterfeit goods.

    DHS has issued a warning about these phony products flooding the market during the holiday shopping season. They say to beware of websites offering deep discounts for normally expensive items as that’s a good indicator that the products are knock offs. A number of these sites offering these goods could also be just a front to gain your financial information and not even send you a product. DHS also wants people to know that knowingly buying a counterfeit product is also a federal offense and could land not only the seller but the buyer in jail as well.

    If you’re looking to buy these products first-hand, then only deal with reputable merchants and keep all the documentation that comes with it including receipts and confirmation emails. If you’re buying these items second-hand, any person selling these items should have all the documentation that goes along with them as they’re a common form of confirmation of the item’s authenticity. Some second-hand markets even have authenticity programs for high-end goods in order to try to prevent fraud. And while it may be fun to own a knock-off as a form of entertainment, keep in mind that buying one is not only illegal but you never really know where your money is going or what it’s funding.

    So, to keep everybody safe and happy during the holiday season, only buy genuine.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Christmas shopping, , , ,   

    How to avoid online Black Friday scams 

    How to avoid online Black Friday scams

    In the past, we’ve advised against going to brick and mortar retailers on Black Friday. Not just for safety reasons but also because many retailers engage in misleading business practices by using limited stock to try o get you to buy more expensive items. Usually, these so-called doorbuster deals can be found for the same price or lower later into the holiday shopping season. In the past few years, we’ve advised shopping online rather than braving the crowds on Black Friday. However, even online Black Friday shopping comes with its own pitfalls.

    While many of the big-name online retailers are safe to shop through, scammers will try to trick you into believing you’re using one of those retailers, but it reality you may not be. Scammers will send out phishing emails using the actual logos of famous shopping sites but will leave a link in the email that will take you to a phony site that resembles the real thing. They’ll then try to gain your financial information for possible identity theft and other potential abuses. Along the same vein, scammers will pose as retailers and send you an email asking you to download something in order to get a deal. This will instead infect your device with malware which could allow bad actors to access your device remotely and steal as much information as they want from it. Always go directly to a retailer’s website rather than clicking on anything in an email.

    As the video above mentions, if at all possible, use a credit card over a debit card when making purchases. While both debit and credit cards offer protection against scam purchases, credit cards have better protections and won’t take any money directly from your bank balance. Also, keep an eye on both your debit and credit card accounts to make sure that no unauthorized purchases have been made on them. Many of these services can be set up to send you a notification every time the account is used. While the notifications may be a bit annoying, they can go a long way in preventing fraud on your accounts.

    And as always, keep in mind that gift cards are the currency of scammers and you could be ripped off in a number of ways when buying gift cards. You can check our previous post here about what to look out for when buying gift cards.

    Once again, we wish you a happy and headache-free holiday season.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Christmas shopping, , , , ,   

    The secret shopper scam returns in time for Christmas 

    The secret shopper scam returns in time for Christmas

    Another potential scam that we see return around the holidays is the secret shopper scam. While many retail outlets do have positions for secret shoppers, there are more chances of you being scammed then getting a legitimate job. The Delaware State Police are warning that the scam has appeared in their area. Considering that Delaware has no sales tax, they are a prime target for such a scam. With most secret shopper scams, the scammers will either try to get you to pay a fee to become one. Or they’ll send you a phony check to deposit in your account then use it for shopping before wiring them back the balance. These are the hallmarks of a scam.

    In other scam news, police in Richland, Washington are warning that the rental scam is occurring in their area through Facebook Marketplace. The rental scam is one of the oldest online scams there is. The scammers will post a home or apartment for rent at a below-market rate. They’ll then try to get you to rent the property without seeing it and pressure you into wiring them a deposit. If you’re looking to rent a property, always be suspicious of any of these signs.

    Lastly, in Southern California, a water department there is warning customers about a company that is claiming their water is potentially contaminated. While the news article about the claims doesn’t mention it, this could potentially be a high-pressure way of trying to get residents to buy expensive equipment for their home that they may not need. Any company can put an official-sounding prefix in their name like American or National, but that doesn’t mean they’re not out to take your money.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Christmas shopping, , , Secret Sister Gift Exchange   

    The Secret Sister gift exchange scam is back 

    The Secret Sister gift exchange scam is back

    With the holiday season fast approaching, so are holiday scams. We recently reminded our readers about the potential abuses of gift cards, now it’s time to remind our readers of another holiday scam that turns up this time of year. The scam we’re referring to is the Secret Sister Gift Exchange. While there are some who swear by it and say that it’s not a scam, in reality, it’s just a pyramid scheme that could see you losing money and your personal information. You could also find yourself in trouble with the law if you participate in one of these gift exchanges.

    These gift exchanges start when someone posts on social media asking you to add your name and address to a list where you send in a small $10 gift. In return, you’re promised to receive up to 36 of the gifts. You’re also asked to recruit at least six more people into the gift exchange. Like most pyramid schemes, the people on the top receive all the gifts, while people at the bottom of the pyramid receive nothing. While $10 sounds like a small amount to lose, you could also be in danger of identity theft or worse by giving out your personal information.

    Also, we can’t stress this enough, these exchanges are illegal in the United States. As we mentioned, they are considered pyramid schemes under the eyes of the law and are also considered to be gambling. That’s not even taking into account that it could also be considered as mail fraud. While you may think you’re just sending a gift to a stranger to brighten up their day, you could actually face potential jail time. If you receive an invitation to a gift exchange like this, just ignore it. Instead, think about using that $10 to make a charitable donation.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Christmas shopping, ,   

    Gift card scams in time for the holidays 

    Gift card scams in time for the holidays

    We’ve talked about gift cards a lot. Mostly how you should never pay anyone with gift cards who claim to be in some position of authority. That’s one of the biggest red flags that you’re being scammed. Gift cards have become the literal currency of con artists. However, that’s not the only type of scam that can be committed with gift cards. Since the shopping season for the holidays has already begun gift cards are being purchased more and more but that could lead to even more consumers being scammed.

    If you’re buying gift cards for your family this holiday season, there are some warning signs to look out for that require you to physically inspect the cards themselves. If you get a card with the PIN already being exposed it’s likely that card has been purchased already with the scammer putting the card back on the shelf hoping that someone will add additional funds to the card that the scammer could then use without your knowledge. Another variation of this scam is when a scammer will scratch the protective coating off of the card’s PIN then replace it with a sticker after writing down the number.

    Another prevalent gift card scam is the trading of gift cards. Scammers will post online that they have a certain brand of gift card that they supposedly have no use for. They’ll say they want to exchange it for a gift card they could use. Once the gift cards are exchanged, the victim finds out that they traded their actual gift card for one with little to no funds on it. While gift cards are incredibly convenient for gift giving and receiving, there are many pitfalls you need to look out for so you don’t have a complicated Christmas.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on December 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bots, Christmas shopping,   

    The Grinch-bots that are stealing Christmas 

    The Grinch-bots that are stealing Christmas

    By now you should have all your Christmas shopping done since it’s only five days away. However there are many of us who’ve either been too busy or who have just procrastinated to the point of panic. Well, if you’re planning on getting that hard to get gift that children are clambering for this Christmas you’re probably out of luck.

    Even in the days before the internet,when a must have toy hit the market, like Tickle-Me-Elmo or Cabbage Patch Kids, would hit the store shelves, certain entrepreneurial spirits would buy as many of the items as they could then resell them at an extreme markup. Today is no different as scalpers now use bots, or automated scripts, to try to snatch up as many of the season’s hottest items this year from online marketplaces, leaving you to scrape second-hand sites paying exponential prices as to not disappoint someone this Christmas.

    To make matters worse if you are able to get your hands on one of the must have gifts this year and bought it second-hand, you may be introducing a security flaw into someone’s life. If the item you purchased requires internet connectivity, it may contain malware that can be used for several nefarious purposes.

    If you find yourself in the lurch this holiday season, just go with gift cards. It may seem impersonal, but in the long run your loved ones can buy whatever they want with them and they can save you a lot of headaches in the process.

     
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