Secret Sister Gift Exchange – Don’t pay or yule be sorry

Have you already decked your halls in lights, timed to blink to the strains of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Even if you haven’t reached that level of early enthusiasm, the holiday spirit is starting to spread already. If you spend any time on social media, you may have seen posts about the Secret Sister Gift Exchange. SSGE encourages you to mail a gift worth $10 dollars to a stranger at the top of the list. Supposedly, in return, you’ll get a pile of presents from other participants. SSGE and come-ons like it encourage you to hop on board an enticing cash- or gift-giving experience. Sounds like a good time, right? Sorry, Blitzen, stop that sleigh!

Why be such a Grinch?  These posts are just like any other chain letter that asks for money or items of value:  they’re against the law.  The U.S. Postal Service considers them illegal gambling. That applies whether you get the request via postal mail, email, or social media site. And another thing: Some social media sites specifically prohibit users from engaging in such schemes. That could cause problems with your account.

So, when your cousin’s best friend’s sister posts about the Stocking Stuffer Swap Until You Drop and asks you to send cash or a gift to play along, don’t. Don’t send money or gifts and don’t forward or repost the chain letter.

Feeling like Scrooge? Instead, get yourself a little treat or grab a peppermint mocha for your best bud.  Or even consider making a donation to a cause close to your heart. But before you give, pause – and get some tips on finding a legitimate charity.

This article by the FTC was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.