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Beware of scams this holiday season

For most of us, this is one of the best times of the year. The holidays have a way of cheering us up, even during those really bad weeks. There is family to see, presents to buy and plenty to do before we get to the latter part of December. Unfortunately, scammers also look at this time of year as a way to make a quick buck. We always need to be aware of our surroundings when out shopping, but that increases during the Christmas season.

However, we should also be more aware of the phone calls and emails we receive during this time of year, too.  Just about all of us receive phone calls from unwanted numbers on a daily basis, and if you’re like me, those calls are increasing now that the countdown to Christmas has just over three weeks remaining.

The other line is often a recording, informing us our car warranty has run out or that we owe money to the IRS. Most people hang up, but in the right moment some do fall for these scams.

Sometimes the person calling is a real person, and may even suggest that a family member needs money right away for medical bills or to get out of jail. 

These scare tactics often target the elderly, who give away their hard-earned money and have a hard time getting it back.

The Better Business Bureau has tips on its website to prevent falling for these types of scams. The first tip is to never send money to someone you have never met face to face. Scammers will often ask for a wire transfer, a prepaid debit card or a debit card from a store, which can’t be tracked.

The BBB also recommends avoiding attachments and links in unsolicited email and to not believe everything you see. Just because a logo looks official and legitimate doesn’t mean it’s real, especially in a world where everyone seems to know enough about Photoshop to be dangerous.

Of course, the place where scams continue to grow the most is on social media. Many people use apps to sell items now or discuss the transaction on Facebook or Craigslist. However, many times scammers want to meet, get the product and take off without paying.

The easiest way to avoid that situation is to meet at a secure location, such as a local police department. If the person your meeting isn’t OK with meeting there, something is probably not right.

We read in police reports fairly regularly where a local person has been scammed. Don’t be the next victim. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.