Beware of strangers bearing gifts -- according to the Better Business Bureau, scammers are putting a new and brazen spin on the skimming scheme this season.
In this scam, targets receive a call from a delivery company saying a package is on the way. Right on cue, a delivery man arrives with a gift basket sans card. (Some make an excuse, saying the card is being delivered separately.) Before the delivery man leaves, he asks the target to pay a nominal "verification fee" in order to receive the basket. Alternately, she'll need to provide a debit or credit card in order to verify she's of legal drinking age, as there's wine in the basket. The delivery man plugs the info into a handheld scanner and -- ta-da! -- the scam is complete.
Consumers should know: These requests are just an excuse to "skim" the card's account number, PIN and security code. Once the thief has this information, he can use the card to rack up fraudulent purchases or steal your identity.
Don't let it happen to you
The BBB says to be suspicious of packages from an unrecognized delivery service and not to give credit card or debit card info to anyone at your door. Credit cards aren't used to verify age, though a delivery man may ask for identification to prove you're of legal drinking age if a parcel contains alcohol.
Remember, many scams crop up during the holidays. Watch out for phishing emails promoting great deals, fake retail websites, phony charities and pyramid schemes masquerading as social media gift exchanges. Verify any request for payment info, refrain from clicking on links in suspicious and unsolicited emails, shop only on trusted, encrypted sites and monitor your credit card and debit card statements for signs of fraud.
Also monitor your credit if you have reason to believe your personal information has been compromised. You can pull your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com or view your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com. Signs your identity was stolen include mysterious addresses, unexplained dips in your scores and new accounts you never signed up for.
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