Along with the good tidings of joy come fair warnings of scams! From online scammers to porch pirates, there are always more thieves than usual during the holidays. We hope this handful of tips will help you keep your holiday spirit—and recently delivered purchases—in a good and safe place.
Just because a charity has a festive-sounding name doesn’t mean it’s for real. Scammers know how to tug on heartstrings almost as well as they know how to tug on purse strings! You can use the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance website at Give.org to look up a charity’s name to see if it’s legitimate.  GoFundMe is a legitimate website that’s frequently used to collect money to help those in need, but scam artists can set up bogus “causes” there, too. Always investigate before donating, especially during the holidays.
Package Delivery Scams
Friends and family ship lots of presents during the holidays. Scammers see an opportunity here to “help” recipients receive their packages. Well, these aren’t packages at all. The scam is to require a payment to receive a package that’s on its way, but has some sort of shipping problem that you need to fix—with money. And it might not stop there. Often a link or phone number in the text or email will lead to the risk of giving up personal information or installing malware that can then leave you vulnerable to theft. 
The Grinch ended up bringing back all those presents he stole, but porch pirates won’t turn out to be so nice. Here are a few tips to protect your online purchases from thieves. First, check your email and texts frequently for delivery notices. The major delivery services scan your boxes as soon as they drop them off for you, and the notice goes to you instantly. The longer you wait to go grab your boxes, the more time the porch pirates will have to steal them from you. Second, consider the option of having your orders delivered to the retailer’s store or affiliated pick-up location. Third, consider installing a doorbell camera or at least making sure your delivery area is well lit or uses automated floodlights that can potentially scare the porch pirates away. 
Empty Gift Cards
Apparently it’s easier than you might think for a thief to steal the value from a gift card and put it back on the rack at a store. That nice stocking stuffer could turn out to be just like giving a flat lump of coal. The recommendation here is to purchase gift cards online, directly from the retailer or restaurant, and register the card immediately. 
Updates Make You Safer
Software applications are constant targets for hackers, forcing developers to frequently update their security. This is especially true for apps connected to personal finances, and the hackers don’t take time off for the holidays. Make sure to check for available updates and don’t hesitate to get the latest version possible. By the same token, always update your applications from within the app itself. Never follow a link in an email or text that seems like you’re one click way from an easy update. It’s likely a scam.
Social Security Scams
This time of year, scammers know that many elderly people are thinking about cost of living increases for Social Security. So, when an email or text appears asking for updated information to enable an increase, you can be sure it’s a scam. Such increases happen automatically, and Social Security will never ask for personal information via call, email, or text. 
Valmart, Anazon, and Friends
There seems to be no shortage of slightly misspelled brand names that just happen to lead to fake websites that look almost exactly like the real thing. So much frenzied online shopping goes on at this time of the year, scammers take advantage of rushing and inattention to detail to get you to shop on their fake sites. Take the time to check the website address to make sure it’s the real retailer’s website.
The holidays are many people’s favorite time of the year. Unfortunately, scammers are some of those people. Be especially cautious this time of year, and you’ll be more likely to ring in the New Year with plenty of good cheer!
Disclosure: This information is for educational and informative purposes and shall not be considered a specific recommendation. Readers are advised to speak with their advisor at JL Bainbridge to determine their specific recommendations that meet their investment objectives and to review their portfolios. The material being provided is thought to be accurate. However, the information is compiled from multiple resources and may become outdated or otherwise rendered incorrect by new research or corrections without notice. J.L. Bainbridge & Co., Inc., is not a broker dealer and does not offer tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax or legal advisor for assistance regarding your individual situation. It should neither be assumed that future results will be as profitable or that a loss could not be incurred. For more information related to our firm, please see our disclosure brochures at jlbainbridge.com and https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/firm/summary/108058.
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