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With the amount of shopping and purchasing Americans do from Black Friday through December, the holiday season makes for a natural time for a variety of scams to surface.
The Better Business Bureau warns of a number of scams that can have a bigger impact during the consumer-driven winter months.
Internet scams in the form of fake websites offering deals on merchandise are popular, said Reanna Smith-Hamblin, the vice president of communications for the Louisville-area Better Business Bureau.
Shoppers lose their money on items they never receive. They can check a site’s trustworthiness on www.bbb.org.
E-card scams also are popular at this time of year, Smith-Hamblin said. Emails stating the recipient has a card from a relative or friend contain viruses that can damage the recipient’s computer. If the email doesn’t say who the card is from, don’t click on the link to view it.
Viruses can be found in false emails from delivery companies that ask the recipient to download a form to receive their package. It may appear to be from UPS or FedEx, but shipping companies typically leave a note on the door if they’ve missed the resident during the delivery. Shoppers also can try contacting the company who is sending the merchandise.
People should look closely at the delivery notes as well, as some scam artists will leave what appear to be notes from shipping companies asking the recipients to call a number to receive their shipment. The number will be an 809 number and will be very costly on the next phone bill. If the number isn’t local or an 800 number, don’t try it, officials say.
“If it doesn’t look quite right, look up the company’s number on your own instead,” Smith-Hamblin said.
Gift cards are another way scam artists can steal money by writing down the security codes on the card and using them to purchase items online once they’ve been activated. Smith-Hamblin advises people to not use a card that’s been tampered with, as many of them have packaging or scratch-off security codes to prevent this type of activity, and not to buy gift cards on auction sites.
Before giving to charitable organizations that have representatives going door-to-door, check out the charities at www.give.org. Those “representatives” might look official but it doesn’t mean they’re not actually looking just to take the money given to them. Don’t give money to individual people who appear at the door, and don’t give out a credit card number over the phone, officials warn.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or firstname.lastname@example.org.