The holidays bring joy and a sense of well-being for most people. With the numerous parties, activities, family get-togethers, and holiday shopping, you may find that you are very busy and may not pay attention to potential scams and rip-offs. Here are some tips that will keep you and your money safe during the holidays: Pickpocketing While shopping for the many gifts you intend to give this year, pay careful attention to the presence of pickpockets. Keep you money in a front pocket rather than in your back pocket. If you carry a purse, make sure you hold it close to your body rather than holding it by the strap and letting it swing as you walk. Crafty pickpockets who often work as a team steal millions of dollars each year. One will distract the victim while the other slips in and take the victim's money. Protect yourself and your wallet at all times. Do not be fooled into thinking that since you are shopping at an upscale, safe location that you will not become the victim of a pickpocket. Online Shopping Scams Beware of online scams. During the holidays there are many web sites that offer incredible deals on various merchandise, travel specials, and a number of other seemingly 'perfect' opportunities. Be very careful about what you purchase online and from whom you make purchases. If you are careless in your online shopping habits, you may find that your merchandise never arrives as promised, the deal you thought you were purchasing is non-existent, or that not only does your order arrive after the holidays are over, but when it does arrive the merchandise only vaguely resembles that pictured on the web site, if there is any similarity at all. Credit Card Companies Beware of credit card companies that increase your spending limit immediately before the holiday shopping season begins. Each purchase you make will accrue interest, increasing the overall amounts you will spend the items you buy. Also do not make the mistake of accepting offers from your credit card company to skip your payment until after the New Year. The interest you owe will still accrue and you will end up owing more than you did initially. Also, be very cautious about making online purchases during the holiday season. While most merchants are reputable, there are some that will put up a web site with the express intent of obtaining credit card and debit card numbers for fraudulent purposes. Telemarketing Scams Telemarketing scams seem to increase during the holidays. Never give your personal information or credit card number to an unsolicited caller. Millions are stolen each year during the holidays due to telemarketing scams that entice consumers to make purchases immediately. If a telemarketer tells you that the incredible offer they are giving you will only be available for the next 10 minutes, hang up immediately. You should also be very careful when making purchases from door-to-door salesmen. Not only could you have your personal information used in a fraudulent manner, you could risk your safety by allowing strangers into your home. Charity Scams Beware of mail and calls from charities that you have never heard of. Many people have fallen victim to a charity scam that solicits money form unsuspecting consumers. The charity promises that your tax-deductible gift will go to help the underprivileged, starving children, victims of natural disasters, etc. Most charities are reputable, but stay away from any charity solicitation that is from an organization you have never seen before. Wrapping Paper Station Scam Also, beware of wrapping paper station scams. Wrapping paper stations can seem like a great idea, but in reality you can purchase and wrap everything you need for significantly less money. However, if you do decide to use a wrapping paper station make sure you're present at all times while your gift is being wrapped. Do not leave your gifts at the station and come back later to pick them up. The time you may save is not worth the extra expense and you may find out later that the gifts you bought were not the gifts you paid to have wrapped. To learn about ficus nitida and ficus pumila, visit the Ficus Plant website.
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