It was interesting that as soon as Halloween was over, the holiday ads started, with Christmas themes and winter themes, even though we still have Thanksgiving in a few weeks.

You can bet the scammers will be at work even more now too. According to the AARP Fraud Watch Network, 70 percent of consumers do not know how to avoid holiday scams. Here are some tips.

1. Watch out for calls from your own number. This is becoming a new way for scammers to trick people into answering their own phone. Then when they do answer, what they hear is an automated recording informing them that they’ve won something maybe a trip or something valuable, or that the IRS has them in its cross hairs.Best advice don't answer or hangup before giving out any information.

2. Charity Scams. This year with the hurricanes there are more places asking for your spare change. Best advice stick with the charities you know, Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, Red Cross etc. Don’t give donations by phone if you’re not sure where the money is going. Ask questions when approached by fundraisers. And be sure to set a budget for charity giving and decide which groups you want to support ahead of time, so you are not caught off guard by unexpected solicitation calls. Charity Navigator, Charity Watch and Guidestar keep lists of registered non-profit groups.

3. Gift cards. There are ways these can be scammed. A common scam is that thieves secretly scan or simply write down the serial numbers off the cards from in-store racks. Later, they check on whether the cards have been bought and what the balances are. As soon as a card is activated, the crooks steal the money from them. Many times crooks will call saying they are with a hospital or IRS demanding quick money and will take a gift card. this should send a red flag to you right away and you should hang up.

4. On-line. Stay away from unfamiliar sites. make sure you are on the true site for the place you are shopping at. otherwise when you go to check out crooks can steal your personnel information. Watch out for unsolicited emails and hyperlinks in emails. Any websites that are secure for payments will begin with "https" .

5. Apps. Don't purchase apps from anywhere but your ITunes app store or Google Play store. Other apps could have the way to steal information from you. Check out on line reviews of an app if you are not sure about an app. Another great way to tell an app might be fake is if it asks for a lot of permissions to gain access to your photos, contacts, location or social media profiles. Be cautious if this happens, because generally apps don’t need to access your contacts or images in order for you to buy something from them.

6. Work from home scams.

Before you sign up for any work-from-home opportunities, run a quick web search of the company or the person who has contacted you and see if any fraud has been reported before. Remember the old "if it sounds to good to be true it probably is."

Think twice before  providing personal information or making a payment. Don’t give away your personal information to any company if it has no real web footprint, or if its site seems haphazard and poorly constructed.  Check to see if the company has any history with the Better Business Bureau(BBB).

Just like when you are driving, when on line remember,  let's be careful out there.

a-wrangler