Avoid Holiday Shopping Ho-Ho-Hoaxes

Barry Fowler, Tax Connections

Package Theft

You may find it hard to believe, but according to delivery services like the USPS and UPS, some 23 million recipients each year don’t get their holiday goodies because thieves steal them right off the doorsteps. There is an easy way to prevent this. Simply arrange for a delivery that requires a signature upon receipt. Other options include sending gifts to the recipient’s workplace or have them delivered to a pickup location operated by the carrier. For example purchases made through Amazon can be delivered to an Amazon Locker location and retrieved by using a pickup code. There’s no extra fee to use the service, which can be selected during checkout. Amazon has about 2000 secure locations in more than 50 cities.

Beware Fake Shopping Sites And Apps

It has already been established that crooks can stalk victims via email spam, on social media and in search engine results. During the holidays, you are likely to bring criminals to the forefront when you search terms like “discount toys.” You may follow their compelling but bogus pitches to sham websites that tout bargain buys. However you may end up with cheap counterfeits or nothing at all except malware or identity theft after entering your credit card details.

Take a few moments before click on any link to carefully read the website address. Red flags should fly if you see missing or extra letters of a retailer’s name (such as Tifany instead of Tiffany) and words like “deals,” sales” or “discounts” as part of the URL. (TiffanyDeals.com) Discounts that seem too steep may also point to a scam. Beware of websites that list no phone numbers or street address – only an email or PO box. And be on the alert for sites that don’t offer a return policy or whose purchase pages start with “http” versus the more secure “https” format. And always avoid offers that require payment by wire transfer or prepaid debit cards.

May you and your loved ones have a safe, happy and healthy holiday season. And may it be scam-free.

Have a question? Contact Barry Fowler. Your comments are always welcome!

Barry Fowler is licensed to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and is a longstanding member of several tax industry professional organizations including the National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA), National Association of Tax Preparers (NATP), Texas Society of Enrolled Agents (TSEA), and the American Society of Tax Problem Solvers (ASTPS). With experience in the tax and finance industry spanning over twenty years, Fowler’s expertise includes tax resolution, personal financial planning, tax return preparation, financial statements, and general ledger bookkeeping. He has been instrumental in helping hundreds of people resolve complex tax issues with the IRS.

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