Avoid the 3 biggest holiday scams

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- With the holidays in full swing, many are enjoying the season. However, scammers are working overtime to pull a fast one on victims.

Gift cards are a go to a present for a lot of people. Unfortunately they are in the top three when it comes to holiday scams.

Houston Crime Stoppers says only buy gift cards kept behind a counter or from places you trust. The bad guys find ways to get the gift card's unique card number and use them online.

"They are capturing that number and then they go on the merchant company web site and wait for you to activate the card, as soon as you activate they start using it before you ever can," said Houston Crime Stoppers' Rania Mankarious.

Another scam to watch out for is a charity that is not all that it seems Mankarious suggests checking out any charity before you write a check.

"Either go to Charity Navigator or Guide Star of the BBB and make sure that the charity is listed, that they have an audit on file, that they are a 501C3, that they have a tax I.D. number," Mankarious said.

One of the newest scams is the attempted delivery. Instead of a package at your door, you get a slip of paper that looks official, telling you to call a company and arrange a new delivery time. However, it's not a delivery company on the other end of the line.

"You are calling a criminal. That criminal is going to ask you to confirm your address, your billing credit card number, your zip code possibly the last four digits of your social security card, and the vendor. What they are doing is gathering information that they can then use to impersonate you online," Mankarious said.

Her advice is to not trust the paper left on your door. Instead, go to the delivery company's website and follow the prompts for package deliveries instead.

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