Top holiday scams

Are you aware of these holiday scams?

As the holiday season approaches, it is important to be aware of holiday scams. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), three of the top holiday scams are fake websites, gift cards, and fake charities.

  • Fake Websites: Scammers create a fake website and solicit consumers via social media or email and offer popular merchandise at deeply discounted prices.
    • Ways to avoid this scam: research the vendor by typing "vendor name + scam", use only websites/retailers you are familiar with, go directly to the retailer’s site and be sure there’s a ‘s’ in ‘https’ (the ‘s’ stands for secure), and try to use a credit card (not a debit card) for greater protections against possible fraud.
  • Gift Cards: Scammers write down the numbers of store gift cards, check to see if it’s activated and then use the gift card before the consumer.
    • Ways to avoid this scam: purchase gift cards from reputable retailers, ask cashier to scan to ensure card has not been activated, check the pin to ensure it has not been tampered with, and keep your receipt for gift cards.
  • Fake Charities: Scammers use a charity’s name and make up their own scam to solicit donations from consumers.
    • Ways to avoid this scam: donate to charities that you are familiar with, verify the charity via Charity Navigator website or hang up and call the charity directly, and use a check instead of cash or a wire transfer for your donation.

If you are suspicious of a website or charity, do not purchase or donate, follow your instinct. If you become a victim of a scam, be sure to report it to the police, you can also report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and/or call AARP’s Fraud Hotline at 877-908-3360. Additionally, you can pull your free credit report online to ensure unauthorized activity is not on your credit report.

Be sure to visit Michigan State University Extension for more information on scams. Additionally, you can find financial literacy and homeownership workshops throughout the year to help you become financially healthy. For more information of classes in your area, go to either the MSU Extension events page or the MI Money Health website. Additionally, you can take the Financial Health Survey at MI Money Health to access if you’re financially healthy and discover more ways you can improve your financial health.

Michigan State University Extension has released a new toolkit for homeowners who are experiencing or have previously experienced foreclosure. This toolkit will equip these individuals and families with tools to help them recover their financial stability, in the case that a recovery of their home is not possible. The toolkit is available to download free at the MI Money Health website.

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