I compiled a list of helpful tips this holiday season to help everyone stay safe and have a wonderful gift giving season. I quoted the websites I gathered the info from. I hope this helps a lot of people.
12 SCHEMES OF THE HOLIDAYS
CONSIDERING A GIFT CARD?
DONATING TO CHARITIES
MYSTERIOUS UPS AND FEDEX PACKAGE THIEVES
SAFE HOLIDAY TRAVEL TIPS
MAKING A HOLIDAY BUDGET
12 SCHEMES OF THE HOLIDAYS:
Trip Troubles: Before visiting relatives, evade overly enticing travel deals. Watch out for unexpected hotel and flight "confirmation" or "cancellation" notices—which trick consumers into clicking unsafe links to "stop" unreal reservations.
Getaway Goons: When shopping or vacationing, don't become a target for theft. Guard belongings, be observant and pack lightly. Avoid broadcasting travel plans or empty homes on social networks—as it may entice burglars.
Read More Link On Right
Cheating Charities: Be skeptical of seasonal charitable solicitors who use high pressure tactics, won't answer basic donation questions or can't provide proof of charity affiliation. Don't trust solicitations with invoices for past due payments.
Good-For-Nothing Gift Cards: Avoid purchasing from disreputable third parties and examine gift cards closely for terms, restrictions, fees and expiration dates. Use cards early as they may become non-redeemable if retailers go out of business.
Gotta-Have Goodies and Gadgets: Dodge deceptive deals and "free" offers on desirable toys, jewelry and electronics in audacious auctions, classified ad sites, social media posts, pop-up ads, online coupons, sweepstakes and surveys.
Cruel Credit Catches: During the big spending season, discard ads and offers for high-interest credit cards, costly layaway programs and payday loan traps.
Jester Jobs: Laugh off limited-time job offers for high-paying mystery shopping gigs and online work-at-home tasks. "Employers" may steal data from applications, fail to send start-up materials or induce paycheck money transfer schemes.
Suspicious Santa Sites: Steer away if "Santa" requests unnecessary personal data, doesn't abide by advertising laws or fails to disclose contact details and privacy policies.
Dodgy Domains: Dangers may be hiding in holiday-themed articles, music, screensavers and other downloads. Before surfing the Web, social media sites or emails, update anti-virus protection and check firewalls. Avoid shopping or banking online on unsecured Wi-Fi networks at public places, like airports and hotels.
Hacking Holiday E-Cards: Do not click links or attachments in e-cards and other holiday greetings from unfamiliar senders. Ensure spam filters are set.
Bogus Bank Emails: Disregard sudden emails or text messages about bank account issues. Instead, contact banks or financial institutions directly to verify.
Deceiving Deliveries: Don't accept notices about delivery delays or confirmations on unordered packages; phishers and smishers often pose as well-known retailers or shipping companies to gain false credibility.
CONSIDERING A GIFT CARD?
Here are some helpful tips from BBB regarding gift card purchases:
Buy from sources you know and trust. Avoid buying gift cards from online auction sites, because the cards may be counterfeit or may have been obtained fraudulently.
Read the fine print before you buy. Is there a fee to buy the card? If you buy a card by phone or online, are there shipping and handling fees? If you don't like the terms and conditions, buy elsewhere.
See whether any fees will be deducted from the card after you purchase it.
Inspect the card before you buy it. Verify that none of the protective stickers have been removed. Make sure that the codes on the back of the card haven't been scratched off to reveal a PIN number. Report any damaged cards to the store selling the cards.
Give the recipient your original receipt so they can verify the card's purchase in case it is lost or stolen.
Consider the financial condition of the retailer or restaurant.
DONATING TO CHAIRITIES:
DON’T succumb to high-pressure, emotional pitches. Giving on the spot is never necessary, no matter how hard a telemarketer or door-to-door solicitor pushes it. The charity that needs your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow…after you’ve had time to do your homework.
DO check out the charity carefully. Make sure you feel comfortable with how your money will be spent. Don’t just take the word of someone else; even good friends may not have fully researched the charities they endorse. Go to For Charities and Donors - U.S. BBB to verify that a charity meets BBB Wise Giving Alliance’s 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
DON’T assume that only “low overhead” matters. How much money a charity spends on the actual cause – as compared to how much goes toward fundraising and administration – is an important factor, but it’s not the whole story. A charity with impressive financial ratios could have other significant problems such as insufficient transparency, inadequate board activity and inaccurate appeals.
DO be sure it’s the right charity. With so many charities in existence, their names can blur in a donor’s mind and similar-sounding organizations are common. Many phony charities purposefully choose a name that sounds familiar. Be sure you know which charity you’re supporting and that it’s not a case of mistaken identity.
DON’T assume that the charity wants any item you donate. Worn out, unusable or unwanted donated goods cost charities millions of dollars each year because the organization has to bear the cost of tossing the unacceptable donation. If you have questions about an item’s acceptability, call the charity and ask.
DO consider easy text-to-give options. The BBB Mobile Giving Foundation makes it easy to give smaller donations (usually $10) to charities they have selected and monitor, including those providing relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy. Go to Mobile Giving to find out more.
MYSTERIOUS UPS AND FEDEX PACKAGE THEIFS
Tracking Numbers. Ask whomever is sending your package to provide you with a tracking number, most online services have to provide you one by law.
Signature Required. Same as above, ask to have your package sent with a signature required. Most online business WONT do this so you have to call the business or email and ask their customer service to request a signature required upon delivery.
Post a note for the carrier service with instructions. Put a note on your front door with instructions to the carrier service you’re using if you’re not home so they can hide it where you know where the item may be.
Deliver to a trusted neighbor. If you know you won’t be home and have a neighbor at home consider having them sign for it or getting it sent to their house after requesting permission to do so with their knowledge.
Ask a neighbor to look out for delivery trucks. Ask your neighbor to look out for you in case your home and don’t see it or are not around generally they will look out for you.
Install a camera on your front porch. Install a camera on your front porch if you have ongoing theft of packages, This way you have some hard evidence against criminals who might steal your packages from you
SAFE HOLIDAY TRAVEL TIPS
Create a car safety kit. Holiday driving often includes the threat of dangerous winter weather. Snow and ice lead to accidents, car troubles, long delays and road closures. You can prepare for bad weather by creating your own safety kit. Basics for the kit include blankets, flashlight with extra batteries, radio, first aid kit, jumper cables, non-perishable foods like granola bars and nuts, bottled water, an ice scraper and warm gloves.
Take the car in for a checkup. Breaking down on the side of the road can definitely put a damper on the holiday spirit. If your car is due for a check up, take it in before making that long haul. At the very least, check the car’s fluid levels, wipers and tire pressure. Check the condition of your tires and, if you plan on driving through serious winter weather, consider getting snow tires.
Drop the distractions – According to the National Safety Council, 28 percent of accidents happen when people are talking on their cell phone or sending text messages. When you’re behind the wheel, don’t text and drive, use a hands free headset when talking on the phone and get someone else to fumble with the GPS.
Map out your route ahead of time. Make sure you know where you are going and when and where you’re going to stop ahead of time. Use GPS if applicable. If you need to stop and ask for directions -park in well lighted areas and ask at gas stations or someplace safe not random people walking down the road.
Lock your car. Car thief’s are on the rise during the holidays, lock your car to prevent valuable items from being stolen
Have a communication plan. It is easy during the holidays to get separated from your kids in busy malls and stores. Make sure you have a plan for getting in touch if this happens with a cell phone or other means. Teach your children to go to trusted people like security guards, police officers and customer service desks to look for help.
Protect your computer – A computer should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.
Shop on trustworthy websites – Shoppers should start with BBB to check on the seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction. Always look for the BBB seal and other widely-recognized “trust marks” on retailer websites and click on the seals to confirm that they are valid.
Beware of deals that sound too good to be true – Offers on websites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too good to be true, especially extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Consumers should always go with their instincts and not be afraid to pass up a “deal” that might cost them dearly in the end.
Beware of phishing – Legitimate businesses do not send e-mails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information. If a consumer receives such an e-mail, BBB recommends picking up the phone and calling the contact number on the website where the purchase was made to confirm that there really is a problem with the transaction.
Confirm your online purchase is secure – Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, BBB recommends right-clicking anywhere on the page and select “Properties.” This will let you see the real URL (website address) and the dialog box will reveal if the site is not encrypted.
Pay with a credit card – It’s best to use a credit card, because under federal law, the shopper can dispute the charges if he or she doesn’t receive the item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card, and many card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it. If you are going to shop on classifieds web sites like Craigslist, never wire money and only buy locally.
Keep documentation of your order - After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by e-mail – BBB recommends saving a copy of the Web page and any e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.
Check your credit card statements often – Don’t wait for paper statements; BBB recommends consumers check their credit card statements for suspicious activity by either calling credit card companies or by checking statements online regularly.
Know your rights – Federal law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods aren’t shipped on time, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund. There is no general three-day cancellation right, but consumers do have the right to reject merchandise if it’s defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it’s the company’s policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit.
MAKING A HOLIDAY BUDGET:
Step One: Consider your Income.
The first step is to measure how much money is coming in. Add up your monthly salary along with your spouse’s and any child support payments, dividends or interest payments and other sources of income.
Step Two: Add up regular monthly expenses.
Adding up expenses is usually harder than determining your income because there are so many more factors to consider. Start with your rent or mortgage, utilities and credit card payments. Also factor in other expenses for gas and car maintenance, healthcare and groceries. A full list of monthly expenses to consider is available at Tips on How to Develop a Working Budget - BBB News Center
Step Three: Estimate Extra Holiday Expenses lot of little purchases have a way of adding up over the holidays and it’s important to consider all of the expenses of the season including:
• Gifts - Make an itemized list of everyone you want to buy presents for and estimate how much you’re willing to spend for each. This includes presents for family, friends and coworkers. Also consider the cost for holiday cards and postage.
• Entertaining - Entertaining is big over the holidays. Think about who you’ll be having over and also budget for any food or beverages you might need to bring to someone else’s party. Also consider the costs for eating out and going to the movies—both popular expenses over the holidays.
• Decorations - Take stock of what you already own and then consider any additional spending you might need to make for a tree, lights, ornaments, wrapping paper, etc.
• Travel - If you’re heading out of town for the holidays, consider the cost of travel including any car maintenance or pet boarding if applicable.
• Charitable Donations - The holidays are a time of giving, so budget in how much you plan on donating to a worthy cause. You can learn more about being a savvy donor from the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.
Step Four: Revisit, evaluate and revise your budget along the way.
Once you’ve added up your income and your expenses, it’s time to compare. If more is going out than coming in, it’s time to go back over your budget and pare down expenses. Consider giving fewer gifts or less expensive ways of entertaining. Last year’s decorations are also probably just fine.
Once you’ve balanced your budget, revisit it frequently over the holidays to make sure you’re sticking to it. You might find that you over estimated in some categories and underestimated in others.
Step Five: Reward yourself. Work into your budget a small reward that you can earn if you meet your goals.
If you don’t meet your goals, you can guess where that money is going instead: Paying off your credit card bill in January.
Post By: Dinar Investor / INFO GURU Dinar Speculator
CREDITS AND SOURCES:
12 Schemes of the Holidays - BBB News Center
Purchasing a Gift Card? Read This First! - BBB News Center
Make Sure Your Holiday Giving is Wise Giving - BBB News Center
BBB Tips for Avoiding the Holiday Travel Headache - BBB News Center
Top Ten Cyber Monday Tips for Staying Safe When Shopping Online - BBB News Center
Five Steps to Create and Keep a Holiday Budget - BBB News Center