Mother’s Day Scams To Watch Out For
Mother’s day is this coming Sunday and like most people, you are trying to think of the perfect gift to get that special women in your life. Consumers are expected to pay a record-breaking $23.6 billion – a $2 billion increase from last year and more than $9 billion spent on Father’s Day gifts.
With such large amounts of money being shelled out, you are bound to see those pesky crooks and scams hungry for your money. Here’s a list of common scams to be aware of:
Floral fleecing. People pay at least $2 billion on Mother’s Day flowers. Scammers have become good at posing as online florist. They send spam emails, online ads, and post fake social media posts. They promise bargain-priced bouquets, “free” vouchers and over generous coupons. If a deal sounds too good, it’s best to steer clear. Don’t get fooled! Clicking on these links can send you to scammer-run websites where they collect you (and/or your mother’s) personal information including your credit card account. Some even deliver malware.
Find reputable local florists close to your loved one, through word of mouth or via directories from Teleflora and FTD. When looking online, always look for proof that the websites are secure, you will see an “https,” at the beginning of your url, when opening pages that require personal and financial information. Make sure, if you are calling in an order, to ask if there are additional charges as well as a guaranteed refund for missed,late delivery or if the flowers came in poor condition.
Other gift grift. We’ve all seen them, the latest scam making the rounds on social media, especially Facebook, claims to have a $50 coupon from Lowe’s. Perhaps your mom isn’t into Lowe’s and wants jewelry, designer clothing, like the flower scams, the same rules apply. They offer huge discounted online deals for brand-name items which take you to copycat websites where they capitalize on the high-priced and respected names. Don’t be fooled, they are selling counterfeits. They’re goal is to phish for personal and financial information.
How to spot a fake website. Be aware and carefully read the website addresses “https://www.compassseniorsolutionsllc.com” (example). Before visiting or before buying anything, look for extra or missing letters (www.tiffanny.com) or even punctuation (such as www.tiffanyco.mn, a now-defunct website previously exposed by Scam Alert whose .mn ending meant it was a Mongolia-registered website). Before clicking the link, hover your computer mouse over the link and you will be able to see the “real” address; if you notice it deviates from the legit company name, avoid the website. If that doesn’t work, simply copy and paste the web address into a Word Document, right click on the pasted link and select “edit hyperlink” from the menu, a pop up window should display the real address. For any jewerly you purchase in-store, know what you are buying advice from the FTC and learn how to spot fake appraisals.
Greetings Gotchas. Be leery of fake notifications for electronic greeting cards. This is a very common way for scammers to spread malware to you or your mother’s computer. The malware is able to access files, passwords and online financial accounts. Their trick is to send out spam emails that promise a greeting card is waiting for them. Usually, using bogus “sender” emails like “email@example.com” or touting a generic heading such as “Happy Mother’s Day from Your Loving Son/Daughter.” Be careful, even if a specific name is used (namely, yours) it could be from an online directory or social media.
We instruct would-be recipients to not open the greeting cards via link in the email. Legitimate notices will include a confirmation code that should be entered at the card company’s website, such as Hallmark or American Greetings, for malware-free viewing. If there’s no confirmation code for you, the email you or your mom got are from a scammer.
Courier Cons. Here’s another way scammers are spreading malware. This one is using bogus shipping emails claiming to be from retailers or services such as FedEx, UPS, or the U.S. Postal Service. They claim there is a shipment scheduled, tracking update, or some kind of shipment snafu – with a link for details. Unless you or the recipient already provided the courier with an email address, always assume these are scams. Remember: if you signed up for tracking updates, expect them to be in text form, not with links for more details.
Also, look out for mailed post cards about “undeliverable” packages. This tactic is not as common due to the required postage, but it’s just as serious because it’s an attempt to get you to make a pricey phone call. The common area codes include 809, 876 and 284. While on the phone they try to reveal personal and financial information. In the case that someone shows up at Mom’s doorstep with a package and taking for money, no matter how small, know this ruse: The deliveryman claim he can’t accept cash – only a credit card, and it’s a scheme that can run up unauthorized charge.
Gift card scams. Gift cards are one of the most requested gifts for mom. Make sure to choose wisely, in-store – thieves can remove gift cards from end-cap racks, they can copy codes using portable scanners or pen and paper. Then they dial the toll-free numbers listed on the back of the gift cards to learn when those cards were activated and their value for online spending or from cloned cards for in-store purchases. Our advice: buy gift cards directly from a store cashier, customer service counter or the company’s website. Make sure you are present when the cashier scans and activate the card. Always get a receipt in case there is a problem.
If you are buying online, buy directly from the website of the retailers, restaurants or Groupon, or through gift card exchanges such as GiftCardGranny.com, Cardpool.com and Raise.com, which by unused cards at a discount of their face value and resell them at a profit but at a still-reduced price. Try to avoid any low-ball offer from sites like Craigslist or eBay. Buyers may be buying already redeemed gift cards or pay for cards that are never delivered.