Avoid holiday scams and protect your money

Good Morning El Paso: Holiday money...
EL PASO, Texas - The holiday season is in full swing and so is the spending. 
The National Retail Federation predicted between November to the end of December, more than $655 billion will be spent.
Don't lose your hard-earned money by falling victim to a scam.
Safe Alliance Money financial advisor, Mark Goldstein, said there are several scams that are seen often during this time of year.
"A lot of these scams are creating phony websites strictly to gather your information, make fraudulent purchases, or steal your identity," Goldstein said.
"So you have to be on guard."
If you see an online ad or an email offering a free gift card, it could be designed to collect your personal information so someone can steal your ID. 
Never give personal information in exchange for a gift card.
Goldstein said scammers could try sending emails offering free gift cards, but require you send money to cover shipping and handling. 
Stay away from purchasing gift cards through emails.
There are also several ways a scammer can tamper with gift cards on a store rack, like copying card numbers and pins or replacing new cards with already used cards.
It's better to get a gift card that has not been on display, directly from a cashier.
Never donate by using cash or wire transfer because once you donate your money, it is gone. A check made out to the charity or a credit card are the safest options.
Goldstein said scammers may use the name of a real charity to convince people to donate.
A recent scam includes a delivery person taking an unexpected package to one's door. 
The person will try to convince the person there is a small verification fee and it must be paid with a credit or debit card through their handheld scanner.
The scanner could be used to collect card and security information to be used for fraudulent purchases.
Consumers should follow purchases through bank statements, but Goldstein recommends never to check statements on your mobile phone using public Wi-Fi.

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