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BBB warns: Beware of holiday scams

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Better Business Bureau

 Scammers are busy this time of the year! Whether it’s on the internet, at the stores, or even at your front door…they are ready to take your hard-earned cash! Here are some tips from the BBB on holiday scams:

Internet Scams: Beware of fake websites offering bargain prices, especially on those hard to find gifts. The website can look professional and even have testimonials from “happy customers.” Scam artists will take your money and won’t send you the merchandise! Check out sites at bbb.org.

Phishing Scams: You receive an email with a very tempting offer or a warning that your account has been compromised, and then you are directed to click on a link, which takes you to a fake website. Once there, you're told to enter personal and financial information wanted by the thieves. Don’t click on links in unsolicited emails!

Delivery Scams: You receive an email from what appears to be UPS or FEDEX, saying you have a package that needs to be picked up. You are asked to click on a link to download a form. If you download the form, your computer becomes infected.

Holiday E-card Scams: You receive an eCard from a “relative,” or “friend.”  You have to click on the link to view it. However, clicking on the link may unleash spyware, pop-up ads, viruses, or Trojans. In some cases, nothing bad happens until you download software from the e-card website so you can “run your e-card.” If there is any question of who the card came from, don’t open it! Also, be sure you have the latest anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed on your computer.

Fake Santa Websites: Dozens of domain names are registered in the name of “Old St. Nick,” offering children all kinds of opportunities to email or follow Santa…but not all of these sites are trustworthy. Check to see what information the website wants, check for unwelcome content, and investigate hyperlinks.

Dear Santa Letter: You receive an email selling a “Handwritten letter from Santa to your child.” It offers a special package for “only $19.99.” You have to click on a link, which takes you to a fake website, that phishes for your personal information.

Grandparent scam: During the holidays college-age grandchildren are often traveling. This scam starts with a phone call apparently from a grandchild who has encountered a medical or legal emergency and needs money immediately. Often the scammers get personal information to make the call sound legitimate through the child's Facebook page or other social media.

Gift Card Scams. Be careful with gift cards that are not protected with proper packaging. Scam artists can write down the numbers while the cards are on display, and then call an 800 number to learn when the cards have been activated. Also be careful buying gift cards on auction sites! They may be fake!

Charity-Related Scams: Scammers will call or knock on your door. They’ll wear seasonal outfits, dress in familiar looking uniforms, and carry forms of identification that look real. They’ll convince you to give with stories that tug at your heart. Before you give, do your homework. Check out the charity at www.give.org.

For more information on holiday scams go to bbb.org or call 1-800-388-2222.