Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Agencies warn about holiday scams

Holiday season can bring out the thieves, police say


By EXPRESS STAFF

Hailey police and the Council of Better Business Bureaus are warning the public that the holiday season is a time when thieves take advantage of the spirit of giving to steal or to scam people out of valuables. Police Chief Jeff Gunter recently issued a news release wherein the Better Business Bureau warns of some of the most common holiday scams.
    “Gift cards are a favorite target for con artists this time of year,” according to the BBB. “In one scheme, thieves go to into a store, find the gift-card rack and secretly copy the numbers off the cards, sometimes scratching out the security codes. The thieves then check online or call the 1-800 number to see if someone has bought the cards and activated them. As soon as a card is activated, the thieves go on a shopping spree online. By the time you try use the same card, the money is long gone.”
    The BBB advises that shoppers check gift cards carefully to make sure the package hasn’t been tampered with, or ask a clerk for a card that’s behind the counter.
    Package theft is another popular crime. The BBB cautions people not to leave unattended packages on their doorsteps because thieves have been known to follow delivery trucks.
    To avoid the crime, the BBB advises requiring a “signature for the package and if no one’s going to be home, have the package held at the nearest service location so you can pick it up at your convenience.”


If you get an email offering to send a personal letter from Santa to your child be wary.”
Better Business Bureau




    The BBB reported that counterfeit retail websites are also becoming more widespread and sophisticated. Consumers are advised to do research on a website before they provide personal information. Some of them may actually look legitimate because they copy the layout of legitimate websites. One thing to look for are grammatical errors or spelling mistakes, which are often a red flag that the website is not legitimate.
    Fake charities also become more plentiful during the holidays. Again, the BBB advises the public to research a charity before making a contribution.
    The “Santa scam” is another holiday threat.
    “If you get an email offering to send a personal letter from Santa to your child, be wary,” the BBB advises. “It may be a phishing scheme aimed at collecting personal information for identity theft.”
    Grandparents are sometimes victimized, as scammers will target them, claiming to be a relative either in jail or needing money desperately.
    Beware of malware e-cards that appear to be from a friend or associate. According to the BBB, the e-cards may actually contain a link that will download malicious software onto a computer to steal personal information.
    Pick-pockets are also a threat.
    “Thieves take advantage of busy malls and frantic shoppers to steal purses or wallets,” the BBB reported.
    Overall, the BBB advises consumers to do careful research, to only give out credit card numbers or personal information to trusted places and to “be cautious in every situation.”
Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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