How to spot a scam this holiday season
Monday, October 30, 2023
With the holiday shopping season on the horizon, consumer advocates and federal agencies are warning the public to be on the lookout for tell-tale signs of a scam.
Tom Lacock - associate state director with AARP Wyoming - said because people are sending packages at this time of year, scammers are separating people from their hard-earned money by posing as delivery officials.
"You'll see a fake text from somebody," said Lacock, "saying that they cannot deliver a package and in order to rectify the situation you need to click on a link that they're nice enough to send you. We recommend avoiding those links entirely."
To ensure your gift arrives intact, send tracking information and expected arrival dates to recipients, even if it might spoil the surprise.
If you are contacted, Lacock said call the company where you placed the order directly and ask if there are any problems. To keep others from falling victim, report incidents by calling the ElderWatch Help Line at (800) 222-4444.
In the first half of 2023, more than one million Americans lost $4.4 billion to scammers, according to Federal Trade Commission data.
Lois Greisman - associate director with the Federal Trade Commission Division of Marketing Practices - warned in a news briefing to Ethnic Media Services never send money to someone you don't know or trust, or who pressures you to pay immediately.
"Especially when somebody says 'I'm from the government, I'm from the IRS, I'm from the sheriff's office. I can send somebody to arrest you now,'" said Greisman. "They can be very persuasive."
Scammers also want you to pay using methods similar to cash, which are hard to trace and make it nearly impossible to get your money back.
Lacock said nobody legitimate will demand that you have to pay with gift cards, crypto currency or a wire transfer.
"Anytime someone asks you to pay with a gift card, that puts up really huge red flags," said Lacock. "Because that's an untraceable payment source that we know scammers like to use, and use quite a bit."
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