7 Scams That Will Cost You Money

12/16/2011 08:35 am ET | Updated Feb 15, 2012

The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year - for scam artists.

The average American household will spend about $1,700 on gifts, but not all of it will go to legitimate businesses. In my new book, "Scammed: How to Save Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals" [Wiley, $24.95], I put scammers in my crosshairs and expose their secrets.

It's open season on consumers this Christmas. But you don't have to be a victim. Here are the top seven holiday cons, both legal and illegal, and how to avoid them.