• July 30, 2014

Scammers target unwitting people during holiday season

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Posted: Sunday, December 15, 2013 4:30 am

On the 12th day of Christmas, a scammer took from me …

With less than two weeks before Christmas, the Better Business Bureau warns people of scams and frauds going around this holiday season.

Scams include:

The “Totally Fictitious Puppy” is the first day of Christmas scam. Don’t be scammed when buying a new pet online because that adorable puppy might be one from a puppy mill with problems or it may not exist at all.

Phony loves: Be careful when looking for that special someone online. If they get “cozy too fast and ask for money,” it could be a scammer trying to take you for a wild financial ride.

Travel scams: Be careful booking through online ads when looking for a bargain airfare deal or trip. Don’t send money to someone who’s not known and always ask for references from friends and family members for trusted travel agencies or websites.

Bogus websites: A real website is easy to mimic. Some red flags might be if “http” is put in the address bar instead of “https.” Also, buyers should beware if the website doesn’t list contact information or asks for payment by wire or money card.

Fake charities: Scammers set up fake charities with names similar to legitimate charities, so be sure to check carefully where money is going.

Santa scammers: When responding to a location that offers a “real letter from Santa directly to your child,” don’t click through until you’re sure the site is real and isn’t a scammer trying to get personal information for identify theft.

Fake coupons: Online coupon sites that ask for personal information could be scammers, so always make sure the location is a retailer’s real website.

Stolen gift cards: Make sure gift cards are purchased from a reputable dealer because it’s simple for a scammer to sell a card and then use the funds on the card before it is given as a gift.

Pickpockets: Keep purses or wallets secure when shopping and don’t put shopping bags down because thieves are watching and waiting to snatch them up.

Counterfeit gifts: Low prices on luxurious goods are usually cheap counterfeits, cheating the buyer.

Stranded grandchildren: The classic “grandparent scam” targets older adults. Someone claiming to be a grandchild, relative or friend emails the individual saying they were robbed or hurt overseas and need money. Check to make sure it’s true before ever wiring anyone money.

Malware e-cards: Email attachments or links may contain viruses and malware. Never click on an email from someone unknown. When in doubt, delete the e-card or email.

Kiplinger, a personal finance managing site, listed two other holiday scams that might catch people unaware:

Bogus shipment notifications: Emails may state a package shipment has arrived and urge the reader to click on a link to track their package. Those links have computer viruses. If online purchases have been made, go directly to the shipping companies’ sites to track packages.

Eavesdropping: Someone can listen to personal information given to a sales clerk. Do not give out an email address, phone number or other information if it isn’t necessary to finish a transaction.

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