Certified Mail Labels | 10 Helpful Tips When Shopping This Holiday Season‘Tis the season for shopping, wrapping, baking, and enjoying quality time with those you love. Unfortunately, it is also the season for identity theft, credit card fraud, and scams galore.

While consumers are busy decking the halls, distracted by festive plans and long to-do lists, criminals see them as targets. As you make your holiday lists and check them twice, be vigilant of the scammers on the naughty list.

What are holiday scams? How do holiday scams work?

While criminals work hard year-round to gain access to your personal information, the holidays are a particularly popular time for scams and fraudulent activity. Keep in mind, if a deal or offer feels too good to be true, it likely is a scam.

There are many types of scams that con artists use to prey on innocent consumers. However, there are several types that the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warn about.

According to the FBI, the most common holiday scams are non-delivery and non-payment scams. These crimes combined cost Americans $337 million in 2021, as published in the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center’s report.

Non-delivery scams are when a consumer orders and pays for a product that is never shipped. Non-payment scams are when a seller sends a product, but never receives payment.

What are the most common scams?

  1. Non-Delivery Scams
  2. Non-Payment Scams
  3. Identity Theft
  4. Package Theft
  5. Social Media Scams
  6. Gift Card Scams
  7. Auction Fraud

Planning to shop Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Consider these 10 helpful tips when shopping this time of year:

  1. Monitor your bank and credit card accounts. Be certain to check your statements regularly for unauthorized purchases. Experts recommend using a credit card for online purchases, rather than a debit or bank card.
  2. Keep your receipts from all purchases to serve as a record should you need to dispute any unauthorized charges.
  3. It’s easy to get distracted when checking out at the store. Especially if you have a large grocery or shopping haul. Keep a close eye on each item that’s rung up to ensure that no unauthorized items or gift cards are swiped without your knowledge. The same goes for the cash back selection as you pay.
  4. The holidays can be a hard time for some, and charitable giving is a wonderful way to spread holiday cheer. Unfortunately, charity scams always rise during this time of year. Do your homework and research the legitimacy of a charity prior to donating.
  5. Beware of fake sales and websites this season. If you’re online shopping on a new site, read customer reviews to determine if it’s a credible site. Ensure that https is in the web address before entering any form of payment. Fraudulent sites will often advertise sales using social media posts. These sites looks realistic, but once an order is placed the merchandise is never sent.
  6. Say no to public wi fi. Hackers prey on public wi fi networks and can easily gain access to your personal information when you connect online.
  7. Track your package delivery, but beware of phishing emails! Tracking your packages is a great way to prevent them from getting stolen from your stoop. However, scam artists use fake emails to steal tracking numbers and your private information. Carefully check tracking emails before entering any information. The Federal Trade Commission has some good tips for recognizing phishing scams.
  8. Won't be home for the holidays? We suggest having your mail held by the United States Postal Service. An overflowing mailbox is a clear indicator to crooks that you aren't home. Here's how to temporarily hold your mail delivery.
  9. If an online/unknown seller requests that you purchase a product with a gift card or wire transfer, this is a clear indication that it’s a scam. Once the gift card is sent or the money is transferred, you will not receive the item you’ve paid for. Note: This is different from using a gift card to make a purchase at a store.
  10. Be wary of clicking any link sent via text message from an unknown sender. Similar to phishing emails, scammers will send texts masked as tracking updates. However, the links contain viruses or prompt recipients to enter personal information.

How do I deal with being scammed out of money?

Falling for a scam is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Con artists are more persuasive than ever before and the internet and electronic devices make their job easier than it’s ever been.

Especially, when you consider that nearly 70% of Americans have made purchases online according to a poll conducted by NPR and Marist. A figure that’s predicted by Statista to exceed 90% in 2023.

Holiday scams are not limited to cyberspace though. When you are out and about shopping this season be mindful of card-skimming devices. These devices attach to a credit card reader, commonly at gas pumps, and skim the card’s information which the thief later uses to make fraudulent purchases.

Interested in learning how to spot a card skimmer? According to the Federal Trade Commission, here’s how to identify a credit card skimmer- including photos of skimmers in action.

If you realize you’ve fallen victim to a scam, first recall how you paid for the purchase. If it was with a bank or credit card, contact the company as soon as possible. If the payment has not yet been processed, call the company and request that they stop payment immediately. If the payment has already been processed, sent a certified letter to the bank or credit card company informing them of the fraudulent activity.

In the letter, be sure to include as much information about the situation as possible. Be sure to include your name, account number, and contact information. If you have a receipt, email, order form, or any other documents related to the fraudulent purchase attach them to your letter.

Click here, for a sample letter. Send the dispute letter via Certified Mail® to the billing department.

Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, consumers have protections against fraud and unauthorized purchases. Time is of the essence and the certified letter should be sent within 60 days of a published statement. Upon receipt, the company has 90 days to respond to the notice.

Can I get a refund if I get scammed?

Refunds are dependent on the situation and the form of payment. If you mailed cash using USPS, contact the Inspection Service as soon as possible and request a package interception. Visit USPS Package Intercept: The Basics for more information.

If you paid with a credit or bank card, contact the company or bank immediately to report the charge and request a refund.

The Federal Trade Commission provides detailed instructions based on payment forms, here.

Why Certified Mail?

The importance of Certified Mail when working to recoup funds and rectify your credit is crucial. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission instructs individuals who are disputing credit card errors to send correspondence via Certified Mail.

Certified Mail provides the sender with proof of mailing and tracking. As well as, delivery confirmation.

Why Certified Mail Labels?

After dealing with a scam, the last thing you want to do this time of year is stand in a long line at the Post Office. Skip the trip to the Post Office this holiday season with Certified Mail Labels. Send USPS Certified Mail labels online from the comfort of your home or office.

Create Certified Mail labels, Priority Mail labels, and Express Mail labels with USPS Postage online for less than you’d pay the Postal Service! There are no monthly fees or special equipment. Just pay as you mail.

Senders receive proof of mailing, letter tracking, and delivery confirmation for each compliance letter sent. Available 24/7 – 365 days a year.

Certified Mail Labels saves you time and money while providing email notification with Electronic Delivery Confirmations, Return Receipt Signatures, tracking, and a 10-year compliance archive at no extra cost.

Create your free account now.

Additional Resources
Warning: Open Enrollment Scams to Beware Of
The High Cost of Flood Insurance Fraud
Repairing Your Credit One Certified Letter at a Time
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