'Tis the season for post-holiday scams: What you need to know about gift cards, new technology

Posted at 1:12 PM, Dec 29, 2018

The holiday season is wrapping up, those presents open and bellies are full. But beware, holiday Grinches are still out there ready to steal.

Year after year, the number of post-holiday scams popping up are on the the rise, taking your new present away before they can even be used.

Those scams target presents like gift cards or new pieces of technology, like a smart TV or new computer.

The biggest post-holiday scams out there hit gift cards to specific stores like Starbucks or Best Buy and even generic Visa or MasterCard debit gift cards.

They usually target when people go to check their balance online, according to the Better Business Bureau. They often lead you to a fake website, either from an internet search or a fake email that popped into your inbox.

The fake website, which often looks like the real website, asks for the gift card number and the pin/security code. Once you click submit on the fake site, the scammers have all the information and can start using it and your gift money is gone.

But this year's scams don't just affect gift cards. As technology gets smarter, like our computers and smart TVs, scammers are turning into hackers to get to your personal information.

Before you even start using that new smart TV, computer or other piece of technology, make sure you update it. The prompts will usually appear on the screen or you can find them inside the "settings" or "about" windows on the device.

Also, make sure you register the device to your email address. That won't just help with the warranty, it will also make sure you get email updates if there are security breaches.

Those software updates are vital to keeping your personal information secure. Just a little more than a week after Christmas last year, billions of smartphones, including iPhones and Androids, were hit with a bug that could open the door to hackers.

After you're done updating your device, be careful with the apps you're installing. There are fake apps out there that are trying to get your personal information. Be careful to make sure you are downloading the app you want and that it is legitimate.