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Your inboxes are probably flooded like mine with emails from retailers offering their holiday specials and super savings discounts. Although most of the emails you receive are probably from companies you’ve shopped at in the past, some of them might actually be a scam. What about paying for holiday gifts online with a debit card, do you think you could get ripped off? The holiday season usually brings out the best in people, but sometimes it can bring the worst in others. Let’s take a look at some ways how NOT to get ripped off during the holiday season.

Pay with Debit as Credit: Did you know that when you use your debit card you have the option of running it as credit instead? When you swipe your debit card, your information is stored somewhere out there in a “cloud.” If you use the option to run you debit card as credit your transaction will still be processed as cash, it will just take 2 to 3 days to hit your account. You’re still paying with your debit card and the account it is linked to you are just adding an extra layer of security.

Get a Locker: Are you afraid of your packages being stolen off your stoop? When ordering from Amazon, most areas now have the option to send your purchased items to a locker at one of their holding stations. When it’s delivered, they will notify you that it’s in your locker and ready for. Yes, it does add an extra step for you to get your items but at least you’ll know the gifts you ordered are safe and locked away.

Watch Your Email: Phishing scams and fake virus-filled downloads are everywhere right now. If your email platform does not recognize a bad email and puts it in the junk folder, you must be the last line of defense. Make sure you know who the sender is and that it’s a legit email address and domain name. Beware of urgent or threatening language in the subject line and do not click on any attachments. Always be aware; if it seems like a scam, it probably is!

Read the Return Policy: In some states, sellers get to choose their own return policies. Make sure if this is an item that you’re not certain about or is a more expensive item that you are fully aware of that particular seller’s return policy.

Shipping Fees: Many stores are advertising for free shipping and speedy quick deliveries. Read the fine print and ensure before clicking “submit payment” that your shipping is free for your order. Retailers are always looking for loop-holes, don’t become the shipping cost victim!

As you enjoy the buzz from the holiday season, the time spent with family and the joy of jubilee in the air, remember to protect yourself and watch out for the rip-offs and scammers. They are getting smarter and trickier nowadays and know that people tend to be more vulnerable this time of year. I would hate for you to be another holiday statistic.

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season!

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