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Don't Let Scams Spoil Your Holiday Spirit

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012   

RALEIGH, N.C. - Just like the Grinch, scammers are on the prowl this year, looking for people with their guard down who'll fall prey to a bogus charitable pitch or irresistible offer.

The Better Business Bureau is reporting scams involving emails with viruses, websites offering the hottest toy or gadget for a reduced cost and phone calls asking consumers to take surveys and - of course - reveal information that could be used for identity theft. Once you share those details, says Toby Barfield, president and chief executive of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina, the scammers are off and running.

"Once you send your money to a website or you give them a credit card number, that money is gone. Kiss it goodbye."

Older Americans are hit especially hard. More than 25,000 of them reported losses of more than $110 million to scammers last year.

The Federal Trade Commission says fraud is up 19 percent over 2010 and more than 800 percent since 2000. Overall, people reported losing more than 1-point-5 billion dollars to scams. And Barfield says some folks seem to be especially susceptible to fraud during the holidays.

"They're nothing new, but they are much more prevalent in the holiday season, and they come wrapped in pretty packages."

Those who have been a victim of fraud or are concerned about a solicitation have places to turn for assistance. The Better Business Bureau is a great source for information, Barfield says, as is the Federal Trade Commission.


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