Beware of these 3 common holiday scams

HOUSTON – Here is a warning for all of you last-minute shoppers. Scammers love Christmas because there are more opportunities to rip you off.

Here are the season's top three financial scams:

1. Gift Card Grinches

Delete any email that says you're getting a free gift card if you pay a small delivery fee.

"Never fall for an email that you're getting something for free," said Kaleb McCarty. "Because they want to collect your information and do whatever with it."

Instead, only buy gift cards online from reputable companies. Make sure any gift cards you buy in a store are the kind that must be activated so you know that thieves have not already take the number off of the back and used up the value of the card.

2. Charity Scrooges

We're in the giving mood this time of year, and we also want to make donations for tax purposes; but make sure the charity you're giving to actually exists. Don't pay with cash. Write a check or use a credit card so you have proof of the donation and also so you can write it off for tax purposes. 

Websites like www.CharityNavigator.com and www.Guidestar.com can help you verify if a charity is real.  If the charity is local, you can check it out with the Houston Better Business Bureau.

3. Bad Santa

If you receive an unexpected package, and are asked to verify using your credit or debit card, shut the door.

"They're scanning with a scanner that looks like a FedEx guy would do, and they're collecting your information again," explained McCarty.

McCarty says to be sure to review your credit card statements regularly this time of year, every day if possible. It's also a good idea to set up automatic alerts with your banks to be notified of any suspicious charges.