Number 10 of the Scams of Christmas: Scrooge Wants More Money

Ever since the days of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, we’ve associated Scrooge with money-grubbers. But alas, in this case, Scrooge is being unfairly maligned, because we have no reason to think he couldn’t spell.

Familiar banks, credit card companies, and even money-saving rewards or points programs are being used as easy ways to lure budget-conscious consumers to fraudulent websites. An e-mail is sent, and why, there’s a handy link inside. After clicking it, friendly Bob Cratchit is taken to a fraudulent website where he must “log in” to his account, but what he’s really doing is giving away his personal information. There are more hints for spotting “phishing” e-mails from Rick Broida at c|net:

You can't win a contest you didn't enter. Your bank won't contact you using an e-mail address you never registered. Microsoft did not “remotely detect a virus on your PC.” Know the warning signs, think before you click, and never, ever give out your password or financial info unless you're properly signed into your account.

(On a side note, we should all be thankful that the computers of those naughty boys and girls who send these emails don’t seem to have spellcheckers.) I get daily offers to help me consolidate my debt, receive a government grant, obtain an unsecured loan, get quick holiday cash, and help me with a structured settlement. With all that money floating around, I might want to pad my Christmas list. Nah, I really am a Scrooge.

Lets face it, the spammers might not be smart, but they are persistent. If you receive any enticing or alarming email claiming to be from a company remotely associated with money, you’re entitled to act uncharitably. Be skeptical and contact the company directly, by using a web browser to connect with their main website rather than clicking any link from e-mail. And if real money’s on the line, reach out and touch the company with a phone call, using the number you looked up from their main website or one of your legit account statements.

Stop back next time for Coupon Scams, No. 9 of the 12 Scams of Christmas.

Terry Ambrose writes the McKenna mystery series set in Hawaii. They're filled with snark, scams, and trouble in paradise.