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Did that email or social media posting urging you to enter a contest to win the latest iPad or Xbox sound too good to be true? Unfortunately, it probably was. Contests or offers of free gift cards or other rewards are among the ploys scammers put to work to trick you into sharing personal confidential data or financial information.
Con artists also send bogus confirmation emails that appear to be from reputable retailers or delivery companies, but if you open them or click on the links they contain your system could be hit with destructive malware.
Hiding among all the holiday shoppers crowding the stores is an army of criminals seeking to separate you from your money.
To avoid becoming a pickpocketing victim, stay away from dense crowds if possible and always be sure to keep your wallet in an inside pocket or money belt or in a bag that zips or snaps shut.
You could also become a victim if you leave packages inside your car in a quiet parking lot. To prevent criminals from breaking in and taking them, be sure to store them in your trunk before you park and try to leave your car in a busy area.
Packages left on your front porch are another temptation for crooks, which is why it’s a good idea to have expensive items sent to your office, to arrange for deliveries when someone can be home and to require a signature, if possible, or to have them sent to a friend or relative who can accept them in person.
No one wants to think about crime at this time of year, but a few simple actions can help you avoid becoming a victim. There are also many steps you can take throughout the year to protect your finances. Whenever you have questions about the best ways to keep your financial life in order, be sure to contact your local CPA. He or she can offer the advice you need to make smart financial decisions.
Copyright 2014 American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.