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Money Matters: Avoid Not-So-Jolly Holiday Scams

 
Fd053f93-15db-407c-84ea-d591076f5836Roseland, NJ (December 5, 2014) - Holiday season is in full swing—a time when family and friends come together to celebrate. The bad news is that this is also when thieves of all kinds are trying a variety of scams. To help you keep the sparkle in your holidays, the New Jersey Society of CPAs offers this advice on scams to avoid so you can keep the season merry. 
 
Don’t Trust Social Media Scrooges
Did that email or social media posting urging you to enter a contest to win the latest iPad or Xbox sound too good to be true? Unfortunately, it probably was. Contests or offers of free gift cards or other rewards are among the
 
 
ploys scammers use to trick you into sharing personal confidential data or financial information. Con artists also send bogus confirmation emails that appear to be from reputable retailers or delivery companies, but if you open them or click on their links your system could be hit with destructive malware. If you’re not expecting a package—or if the email message line contains any misspellings or other signs it’s not from a legitimate source—then send these messages straight to your spam or trash file without opening them. 
 
Scrutinize Your Ecards
Ecards have become a popular way to express holiday greetings but, sadly, scammers have gotten on the bandwagon. They send out mass mailings with cards containing malware that will disrupt or steal information from your system. If it’s not clear who sent the card, just trash it. 
 
Watch for Pickpockets on the Prowl
The day after Thanksgiving, aka Black Friday, is the traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping frenzy. It’s also when more thefts happen than any other day of the year, according to the Travelers insurance company. Hiding among all the holiday shoppers crowding the stores is an army of criminals seeking to separate you from your money. To avoid becoming a pickpocketing victim, stay away from dense crowds if possible, and always keep your wallet in an inside pocket, a money belt or a bag that zips shut. To protect your privacy if you are a victim, remove your Social Security card from your wallet, along with anything else that shows your Social Security number. Other things not to keep with you when you’re shopping include lists revealing your ATM PIN or passwords to important accounts. And remember not to leave your wallet, purse or holiday purchases unattended.
 
Prevent Package Pilfering
You could also become a victim if you leave packages inside your car in a quiet parking lot. To prevent criminals from breaking in and taking them, store them in your trunk before you park and try to leave your car in a busy, well-lit area. Packages left on your front porch are another temptation for crooks. It’s a good idea to have expensive items sent to your office or arrange for home deliveries when someone can be there to receive them. You can also have packages sent to a friend or relative. 
 
Turn to Your Local CPA
No one wants to think about crime at this time of year, but a few simple actions can help you avoid becoming a victim. There are also many steps you can take throughout the year to protect your finances. Whenever you have questions about the best ways to keep your financial life in order, be sure to contact your local CPA. He or she can offer the advice you need to make smart financial decisions. 

If you don’t have a CPA, you can easily locate one online using the NJSCPA’s free, online Find-A-CPA service. Just go to findacpa.org, and in a few clicks you can locate a highly qualified professional who can assist you.
 
To find more information on various personal financial matters, visit the NJSCPA’s public service website at MoneyMattersNJ.com. While visiting, you can subscribe to Your Money Matters, the NJSCPA's free, monthly email newsletter to receive valuable personal financial planning advice throughout the year.

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