July 4th 2013 is almost here and that means it’s time to celebrate America with backyard barbeques, fireworks and lots of flag waving. Unfortunately, it also means scammers will try to use your patriotism against you.

4th of July fraud may include holiday phishing schemes, deceptive sales and counterfeit tickets to fireworks shows.

So don’t let a scammer ruin your red, white and blue celebrations! Here are three 4th of July holiday scams and how to protect yourself:

 

1. Phishing: Patriotic eCards and Social Media Messages May Carry Viruses

How It Works: Scammers love to use the Internet, especially social media like Facebook and Twitter, to carry out their fraud schemes. During holidays, they capitalize on trends like eCards, viral videos and inspirational stories everyone wants to share.

The scammers embed this sharable content with Trojan viruses and other malware that can infect your computer, or hijack your account, without your knowledge.

You may think you’re opening a 4th of July eCard from your friend, or following a link to see a patriotic video — what you’ll actually get is an unwanted digital download.

Some holiday malware may even steal your information to use in identity theft or access (and drain) your bank account.

 

How To Protect Yourself: While phishing scams and other electronic fraud is a serious threat, the good news is that it’s easy to protect yourself and reduce your risk.

Remember the basic rules of Internet safety: always keep your antivirus software turned on and up-to-date, use a secure web browser and never open email attachments you’re not expecting.

Don’t click on links in suspicious emails, either, and never download “software updates” or “video player updates” from a social media message (only download updates from trusted sources).

 

2. Deceptive Deals: 4th of July Sales Using Shady Tactics

 

How It Works: 4th of July weekend is a popular day for sales, but the bargains can often be misleading. Retailers use the holiday hype to cash in on the psychological qualities that make consumers vulnerable to impulse shopping and excessive spending.

In the rush to “act now or miss out,” it’s also easy to purchase something without reading the fine print. You may be charged with contract fees or buy an item with final-sale restrictions.

Be extra careful shopping online. Fake retail websites are another popular scam around any holiday. Fraudsters create websites that may offer incredible savings on electronics or other goods, but these sites can prove to be traps for getting your credit card information.

 

How To Protect Yourself: To avoid over-spending, we recommend getting a prepaid credit card before you attend any 4th of July sales. This will force you to stick to a budget, think more carefully about each of your purchases and resist the pressure of a time-sensitive sale.

Remember to read the fine print before purchasing any large items with financing options or monthly subscription services.

Also, if you see a special online 4th of July deal on a website you’ve never heard of, check Scambook and look for online customer reviews to determine if it’s legit.

 

3. Fizzled Fireworks: Counterfeit Tickets to Special Shows and Events

 

How It Works: Many communities organize special fireworks shows for the 4th of July or other special patriotic events with live music and performers. When these events sell out, unscrupulous individuals may attempt to sell counterfeit tickets on sites like Craigslist or even in person at the venue.

Besides being ripped off by scalped prices, you and your family may end up buying fake tickets and missing the show.

And since these scammers always deal in cash, money orders or wire transfers, there’s virtually no recourse for getting your money back if you happen to fall for this fraud scheme.

How To Protect Yourself: Avoid purchasing fireworks show tickets from any individual you don’t know, especially if they ask for a Western Union or MoneyGram wire transfer. Look out for nonlocal sellers. If they’re offering tickets to

Resold electronic tickets are also a big red flag. E-tickets are very easy to copy, so you may end up buying a ticket that’s been sold to someone else and being turned away at the door of the venue.

 

Avoid Scams This 4th of July

Please spread the word and help watch out for 4th of July scams in your community. Share this with your loved ones and have a safe, happy 4th!

 

See Also

4 Reasons Why It’s Better to Use Your Credit Card for Holiday Shopping
4 Tips for a Smart Shopper Memorial Day Weekend
National Consumer Protection Week 2013: 5 Tips Every Consumer Should Know

About The Author

Miranda Perry is the staff writer for Scambook.com, where she blogs about consumer issues, fraud and cyber security. She hopes to inspire readers to think critically about the world around them and take action to improve their lives.

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