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Written by Peter Carter

December 1, 2016

If you think Christmas is just about spending time with family and friends and indulging in parties and Christmas cheer, think again. This is also a time to be wary of illegal activity and potential lawsuits.

Do not be a victim of crime over Christmas and New Year.  The holiday season is a hot time for criminals to strike.

Unsure of what to watch out for?  Follow these tips and avoid being caught in a legal conundrum.

Theft and robbery, scammers, misleading advertisements, problems with retailers and office Christmas parties head up common problems during the festive season.

Theft and robbery

This occurs all year round but is worse at Christmas time.  Due to less time spent at home, criminals find this is a good time to target neighbourhoods.

To prevent theft and robbery, ensure all doors are locked and install sensor lights.  Put beware of the dog stickers on your fence, leave lights, tv and music on when you go out.

When you go on holiday, get a house sitter if possible or else make the house look lived in.  Ensure someone gets your mail, takes the bins out and checks on the house.  Do not post holiday pictures or mention your holiday on social media.

Scammers

Scammers prey on vulnerable people of all ages.  Today’s mastermind scammers are turning to email, texts and phone calls as preferred means of conning people.

Look for clues such as incorrect spelling and incoherent grammar, lack of personal address, inability to answer questions, anger/impatience at being asked questions and unclear phone connections.

In addition, demanding money, asking for credit card numbers, asking to store money in bank accounts and ludicrous promises of large sums of money should set off warning bells.

Report scams on https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/ and   https://www.qld.gov.au/law/your-rights/consumer-rights-complaints-and-scams/scams-fraud/

The ATO and banks send letters and call.  Call banks and other authorities to obtain information / ask questions.

Misleading advertisements

The promise of attaining the perfect body, mind and dream  life is the premise of advertising.

However, when an advertisement deliberately misleads a customer; that is a breach of the Trade Practises Act.

Always read the fine print in advertisements and if you buy a costly product such as a course, seminar; find out about the cooling off period.  Consumer Affairs are advocates for consumer rights.  Lodge complaints at http://www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au/lodge-your-complaint

Retailers

Store disputes over the holiday season can see temperatures soar.  If you feel that a retailer has not acted fairly, talk to the Manager/Owner of the store.  Failing that, go to  https://www.qld.gov.au/law/your-rights/consumer-rights-complaints-and-scams/ to find out more information about your rights and responsibilities as a consumer.

Christmas Parties

Christmas parties are synonymous with copious amounts of alcohol, sexual harassment and rude and obnoxious behaviour.

Watch what you say and do at a Christmas party to avoid a legal quandary.

Limit your alcohol consumption, talk to people you trust and leave early if possible.  If you encounter an uncomfortable situation, record the incident in a book or on your phone, have a witness/support person and remove yourself from the situation.

Avoid legal blues over Christmas and stay safe over Christmas and New Years.

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