Scam alert! Bad guys want your money, information

December 13, 2018

Tis the season when scammers raise their level of activity up a notch. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a warning recently listing several new and

Mike Wilcox Editor/Publisher

Mike Wilcox

old scams that consumers need to be concerned about.

Personally I have been subjected to the fake IRS agent, the fake law enforcement agent and all sorts of credit card scammers. But, when I skimmed the FBI list, I was surprised at the creativity of scammers as they attempt to glean your personal information or steal your money.

Here’s a list of scams you need to be on the lookout for:

-Online shopping scams- This holiday season you must abide by the edict “If the deal is too good to be true, it probably is.” Steer clear, says the FBI, of unfamiliar internet sites offering unrealistic discounts on brand name merchandise or gift cards as an incentive to purchase a product. Most likely you will give away your personal information and receive nothing in return. Do not open any unsolicited emails or click on links provided. Many of these, again, are online to get your personal information.

-Social media scams- The latest trick is to write a post that offers gift vouchers or gift cards. Many pose as holiday promotions or contests that you have to fill out an online survey designed to steal personal information. In addition do not post photos of event tickets on social media, as scammers can use the barcode to recreate fake tickets for resale.

-Smartphone app scams- Apps designed as games and offered for free, could potentially be a scam to steal your personal information. If you are hell bent on downloading a free game app, make sure it is from a reliable source and by all means check out third-party reviews before you download.

-Work from Home Scams- I’m guilty of trying a couple of these, and as the FBI warns, I came up empty. Postings offering work that can be completed from the comfort of your home aren’t always on the up and up. Pay particular attention to those that require a payment for instructions or products. Never provide personal information until you have thoroughly researched the company and had a couple of interactions with the potential employer.

-Gift card scams- Be very careful if someone asks you to purchase gift cards for them. Victims can receive either a fake email, a spoofed phone call, or a false text from a person in authority requesting you purchase multiple gift cards for a usually heartfelt from totally made-up reason. The gift cards are then usually used to purchase illegal goods.

-Lastly, but a scam that has fooled many of us for many years are the phone solicitors seeking money on behalf of fake charities. These hucksters turn up in droves during the holiday season, figuring victims are in the mood to spend for the less fortunate or end-of-the-year tax deductions. Giving money for a variety of legitimate causes is awesome, but make sure you know who it is you are giving to. Scammers are very good at pulling at your heart strings. Often times they claim they collect for police, firemen or injured veterans. Check them out before giving.

Merry Christmas to one and all, and for gosh sakes don’t be fooled by the scammers pedaling “snake oil.”

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