Have a Scam-Free Mother's, Father's, and Memorial Day

Between now and mid-June, a cluster of holidays mean you'll probably be giving or receiving a gift or card, or simply saying "thank you," to someone. If you're going online to make a purchase or send a message, here's how to make sure you don't get caught up in a spring holiday scam.

Beware of appealing offers from shady vendors. Sure, the email promising "the perfect Father's Day gift for 75% off" sounds wonderful. So does the Facebook message from a friend who says they found a great deal on rose bouquets for Mom. But if history tells us anything, it's that super Internet deals are generally an illusion. That link you click to get a "cheap Rolex watch" for dad might end up causing some expensive data loss if the link is infected.

Don't open that attachment. If you don't know the sender, don't open that email attachment—even if their message is enticing. If you do know the sender, but the language seems stilted or generic, the sender's computer may have been taken over by a botnet. Better to leave that attachment alone.

"Special offers" for your demographic may be "special scams." Around Memorial Day, members of the military may get solicitations for military-only loans or discounts on car sales. On Mother's Day, it might be a special vacation package just for moms. Whatever the offer, if it's coming to you by email, through your Facebook account, or as an ad on a website, be suspicious.

Look for the lock icon. Let's say you've found a floral delivery service that will take your last-minute bouquet to Mom. Before you enter your credit card information on its website, make sure it's secure. The URL should start with "https:" rather than just "http:" and a small lock icon should appear in the corner of your browser. If you don't see either of those things—walk away from the transaction, no matter how good of a deal it is.

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