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  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Christmas, ,   

    Romance scams thrive during the holidays 

    Romance scams thrive during the holidays

    For many people, being alone during the holidays can be a painful experience. So, in their search for companionship, they may turn to dating apps or social media to try to find someone to share the holidays with. Romance scammers are counting on this as with many scams the holiday season is their most lucrative time of the year. With many people being in such a vulnerable emotional state, people from all sorts of educational and economic backgrounds can be potential victims of the scam. Not only could it leave them with a broken heart but potentially an empty bank account and possibly jail time.

    Just in case you’re not familiar with romance scams, it’s where someone meets someone else online but never in real life. The new person in their life will start asking the victim for large amounts of money while professing their undying love for the victim. In too many instances, the victim is broke before they realize they’ve been scammed. Even worse, some victims continue to pay their scammers even though all evidence points to them being scammed. Some victims of the scam have paid their scammers hundreds of thousands of dollars while some others have embezzled from their employers to keep the money going to who they perceive as their online significant other.

    The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be aware of these scams this holiday season. If you meet someone online and they claim to be interested in you, do a thorough web search to make sure they are who they claim to be. Use the picture they send you to do a reverse image search to make sure they haven’t been using in other scams. If their social media or dating profiles have missing information, that can be another red flag that they’re a scammer. Most importantly, if they ask for money while simultaneously giving you excuses as to why you can’t meet, that’s almost guaranteed to be a scam.

    While the feeling of being wanted is always nice, it’s not worth ignoring the red flags that could lead to crippling financial damages.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Christmas, , , , 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, , ,   

    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 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Christmas, ,   

    Gift cards may not be the greatest gift idea anymore 

    Gift cards may not be the greatest gift idea anymore

    We’ve talked about gift card scams many times before, but usually, they were about how you should never pay for any online classifieds transaction using gift cards. The reason for that is once you give the fake seller your gift card numbers the scammers then empty the balance of the gift card and never ship the item. Now, with the Christmas holiday behind us and many of us giving or receiving gift cards, there’s a newer scam that consumers should be concerned about.

    If you received a gift card as a present this year, you may want to use it as quick as you can. With this newer scam thieves are getting the numbers off of the gift cards before they’re even purchased. The scammers then monitor the card numbers waiting for the cards to be activated. Once the card is activated the scammers are able to easily and quickly deplete the card of funds. In most cases, there’s little the card vendors or the store that sold them can do.

    While no tip is foolproof, there are ways to better protect yourself when purchasing gift cards. First, you should inspect the sticker or strip that covers the card number and make sure it hasn’t been tampered with and make sure the strips match those of the other gift cards on the rack. You can also try selecting a card from the middle or back of the rack as it’s more difficult for scammers to replace those cards. However, if you really want to give a last-minute gift that you don’t have to worry about, you can always give cash.

     
  • Geebo 10:02 am on November 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Christmas, ,   

    The hassle of Black Friday isn’t worth it 

    The hassle of Black Friday isn't worth it

    In case you missed yesterday’s post on Thanksgiving safety you can read it here. One aspect of safety that we didn’t discuss yesterday was the specter of Black Friday. Traditionally the day after Thanksgiving sees a number of retail outlets offering sales that they’ll tell you are too good to pass up, but in reality, you can.

    As we’ve pointed out in years prior a great number of Black Friday deals the retailers are offering are nothing more than predatory business practices. In too many cases the stock these retailers have on Black Friday are limited on purpose in order to try to get you to buy more expensive products. These same items that are supposed doorbuster deals can often be found for the same sale price later on in the holiday season. That’s not even taking into account that a lot of these items can be found for better prices online than in the stores. This way you don’t have to risk injury or inconvenience by diving into the hordes of other consumers trying to get a deal that doesn’t benefit them in the long run. There are also many other scams abound on Black Friday.

    While Black Friday shopping incidents have been down over the past couple of years, it still isn’t worth your time to camp out in front of a big box store in order to get an item that you can safely purchase anywhere. Thanksgiving is a holiday intended for us to spend time with family and friends and give thanks for what we’re fortunate enough to have in life. The crass consumerism that the retail stores push on us by opening as early as Thanksgiving Night is an affront to all of us who deserve more than to waste our time competing with each other for a cheap gadget. Stay home on Black Friday, your time is better spent with loved ones and that deal will be back around sooner than you think.

     
  • Geebo 10:01 am on November 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Christmas,   

    Why you should stay home on Black Friday 

    Why you should stay home on Black Friday

    With Thanksgiving now upon us, consumer eyes will quickly turn to the holiday season which kicks off with Black Friday. Many of us will trudge down to our local big box stores, with some even camping out, in order to get a good deal on gifts for the holidays. However, is the effort put into Black Friday shopping really worth it? Most consumer groups say no.

    Retailers aren’t in the business to lose money and many Black Friday deals are too good to be true. Many retailers will raise the price of an item, just to offer what appears to be a deep discount on Black Friday. Also items that are listed as being in limited stock on Black Friday often reappear into stores in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Not to mention it goes without saying that most of what’s offered on Black Friday in stores can be found for the same price or even cheaper online.

    That’s not even taking into account the cost of your time and effort into going from store to store looking for the best deal. In the long run that time could be better spent either with your family and friends or enjoying some much-needed leisure time. Let’s also not lose our outlook on life just because of holiday pressure. While it may be disappointing to not get the greatest deal, it’s not the be all and end all of the holidays if you don’t get the latest shiniest gadget or fad item for the holidays.

    So please, stay safe take care this Thanksgiving weekend.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on October 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Christmas, ,   

    Target to put the brakes on Christmas 

    Target to put the brakes on Christmas

    It happens every year around this time. It’s not even Halloween yet and Christmas commercials are already starting to invade the airwaves. A number of retailers tend to bypass Thanksgiving altogether and go straight for Christmas as soon as the leaves change color. Then we hear consumers say en masse that it’s too soon for Christmas marketing. Well, one retailer has said it’s listening to its customers and is cutting back on Christmas.

    Target has announced that they are actually going to focus on Thanksgiving in their stores and delay the Christmas rush. The retail chain says they’ll be focusing on Thanksgiving meal preparation and entertaining during the Thanksgiving season. That’s not to say that Target is throwing in the towel when it comes to Christmas as they plan on increasing their marketing budget as Christmas approaches.

    It’s refreshing to see a retail chain listening to its customers. This has the potential to sway some customers away from Walmart. While it probably won’t make that much of a dent in Walmart’s customer base it’s nice to have the option to shop in a store in October and November and not be assaulted prematurely by the juggernaut of Christmas marketing.

     
  • Geebo 10:58 am on December 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Christmas, ,   

    The Christmas of broken Hatchimals 

    The Christmas of broken Hatchimals

    Prior to the holidays, we talked about the must have toys of the season. One of those toys was called ‘Hatchimals’. They’re these odd-looking creatures that hatch from their own plastic egg to the joy of children everywhere, except for a number of people whose plastic eggs didn’t hatch on Christmas.

    Back in the day, circa pre-internet days, it was almost customary for a child’s toy to break on Christmas day. Sometimes the toy was already broken but in most cases the toy was usually broken by the kids themselves. Back then if a toy was broken the only recourse you had was to try to take it back to the store and either get an exchange, if they even had any in stock, or get a full refund and try to get another one once the stores have been restocked.

    Now in modern times, parents have a new option to deal with broken toys on Christmas, and that’s to take to social media to complain. In this era of instant gratification, parents took to Twitter hammering the toy manufacturer with complaints and tech support requests, on Christmas Day, the day when they’re not working but expecting the toy company to be fully staffed.

    While no one wants to see their kid disappointed on Christmas morning, making these demands on Christmas morning sets a bad example on how to handle a bad situation calmly and instills a sense of entitlement into some children. Just let them know that it’s not their fault but it may take some time to get their toy fixed. That’s not to say that they won’t be bored with the toy within days after they get it.

    Here’s hoping you had fully functional toys on Christmas.

     
  • Geebo 1:34 pm on December 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Christmas,   

    Unload the gift cards you didn’t want 

    Unload the gift cards you didn't want

    Are you a vegan who got a gift card to the hunting store? Are you an XBox player who received a PlayStation Store gift card? Are you anybody who got a gift card from Applebee’s? Well fear not, because a solution is at hand.

    With the gift giving holidays behind us many of us may have received a gift card we have no use for whether it be personal taste or the lack of a local available store. This article from the Associated Press details what you can do with those unwanted gift cards. While it has many good ideas there is at least one I would recommend avoiding, selling your gift cards.

    While the article states that there are legitimate outlets for selling your gift card it just reminds me too much of the many gift card scams that appear online. Basically the scam works is that the seller claims to be selling a gift card for some ridiculous price like half off but when you get the gift card it’s completely worthless. I’m not saying the outlets listed do that but caveat emptor.

    An idea that was not mentioned in the article was you could try to set up an unwanted exchange at your place of work. Surely you can’t be the only one with an unwanted gift card. Maybe someone at work would be willing to trade you for something you could use.

    Of course the best idea, which is mentioned in the article, is to donate the card to charity. There really is no greater gift than helping out someone in need and that gift card could do just that.

     
  • Geebo 11:00 am on December 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Christmas,   

    Why don’t corporations just make a donation instead of making you buy something? 

    Why don't corporations just make a donation instead of making you buy something?

    It happens all year round, but you see it a lot come Christmas. A number of companies will claim to make a donation to charity if you buy their product. I’m sure you’ve heard the pitches before. “Buy our phone and will donate part pf the proceeds to such and such charity.” I always wondered why don’t the companies just make a large donation to the charity and say “Hey, we’ve donated a big chunk of change to ‘Charity X’. Why not buy our product since we’re such good guys?” Personally, I would rather buy from a company like that then one that makes you jump through hoops for charities to get the money.

    Of course the answer is marketing. The companies are more worried about profit than charity, but if they appear charitable it could make them more appealing to certain sections of the population. According to an article from TIME Magazine, the appeal to our generosity could make some of us buy a product that we wouldn’t necessarily even be in the market for. The same article from TIME also has tips on how to avoid less than reputable charity practices from certain companies if you are in the market for this type of purchase.

    Personally, I’m of the mindset where if you’re going to give to charity, just give to charity and do so without buying something you may not want or need as it looks like you’re justifying your own consumerism by claiming philanthropy.

     
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