‘Tis the season to be on the lookout for scam artists

As the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

Unfortunately, that is likely the credo for thieves too with numerous scams launched increasingly throughout the holiday season. In addition to outright theft of money, goods and services, thieves seem to increase their scamming efforts around the holidays, trying to capitalize on obtaining financial information, including checking account numbers and other data by a range of means.

Consumers need to be extra cautious, despite being distracted by the busy holiday season.

In the past week or so, there have been several incidents reported locally including Craigslist scams to get financial information from jobseekers under the ruse of offering a job or to try to obtain money for home rentals to properties not owned by the advertisers.

The Associated Press reported this week that Target Corp. says about 40 million credit and debit card accounts may be affected by a data breach that occurred just as the holiday shopping season shifted into high gear.

Target officials told the AP customers who made purchases by swiping their cards at terminals in its U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 may have had their accounts exposed. The stolen data includes customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the three-digit security codes located on the backs of cards.

In the Craigslist job scam, police were reminding the public not to give out financial information to sources they do not know or have not initiated contact with regarding personal accounts. Job applications do not include financial information, including bank or financial account information.

It is very unfortunate the holiday season can’t be a time when everyone focuses solely on peace on Earth and good will toward others. Instead, the holidays can be marred by the actions of some who would seek to take the opportunity to profit from the season through scams and theft.

We hope everyone will take extra precautions to protect their finances this holiday season.