Scams This Holiday Season: What You Need To Know

November 15, 2018

 

It was mentioned in last night’s council meeting by one of Page Police Department’s finest that the season of scams and theft is upon us; that season being the winter holidays with packages being delivered to homes and the urge to give more to those less fortunate is stronger than any other time of the year.

 

With that being said, there are many scams we at LPNN have been hearing about going on around the country, and in our little town, and we want to get the word out so you can keep yourself, your family, and your neighbors safe from those who are out to take advantage of the season’s giving spirit.

 

There are various scams out there each targeting someone different. Some include informing people who are on social security that their payments have been suspended because their social security number has been deactivated or questionably used. This scheme has been such a problem, that the Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration issued a fraud and scam alert last month

 

Another that has come about during the holiday season since 2015, according to the Better Business Bureau, involves the “Secret Sister” gift exchange and similar activities.

 

The “Secret Sister” gift exchange, according to the BBB, is a pyramid scheme. The post  claims that those who participate will receive gifts, up to 36, from other people around the world in exchange for sending in one gift with a minimum value of $10.

 

The post also says that those who want to participate are encouraged to do so, and will receive a list of their secret sisters and information about where to send the gifts. Some of the posts state that you will receive specific items like books or wine from the exchange. 

 

Additionally, schemes such as this are digital chain letters, and are illegal according to the US Postal Inspector, as they ask for money or items and promise a large return to those participating.

 

Several police departments around the country are warning their residents to not participate in this exchange or any similar exchange on social media. There have been some stories of legitimate exchanges, but authorities are asking those who want to participate to be aware of the information they are providing. One of the largest concerns is that your information (name, address, etc.) could be given to the wrong person. 

 

To know whether or not the charity you are giving to, the person calling you, or the activity you are participating in is a legitimate entity, cause, etc., there are many websites you can go to  verify. One is the BBB’s Scam Tracker, which shows you the locations and types of scams that have been reported in that area. Other sites, such as the consumer information page from the Federal Trade Commission provide you with the types of scams that are out there, and what you can do to protect yourself.

 

USA.gov has a very informative page dedicated to common scams and frauds and what you can do to protect yourself. In the Page area, residents deal with a number of scam calls. Some of the suggestions USA.gov has when dealing with phone calls is to not give in to pressure; if the person says they are representing a government agency, hang up verify the agency’s number either on their website or in the phone book, and call the agency directly. Additional actions the site identifies is to not provide any identification information such as your credit card number, social security number, or birth date.

 

One of our viewers even informed us that a person was going door-to-door throughout several neighborhoods in the Page area selling vacuum cleaners. However, the person would not provide a business card, had a vehicle with no identifying logos, and was pushy about coming into their home. While LPNN has not been able to verify the viewer's claims for themselves, it is a good reminder to be aware of what is going on in your neighborhood. If you see something or someone that does not appear to belong, it is a good idea to contact your local police department on their non-emergency line (unless it is an emergency), and have them check it out. It's always better to be safe than sorry.

 

In keeping yourself safe from phone scams, one of our viewers has informed us that for their cell phone, they have downloaded an app that warns about possible scam numbers. It’s called Mr. Number. It’s a free app from the Google Play Store, and will inform you that the number calling you is possibly a scam, and private/unknown numbers will be sent to voicemail. However, there are a number of apps out there that will block or filter spam calls for you. Our suggestion: go to your phone’s app store (Google Play for Android users, and App Store for Apple users) and find the one that fits your needs and comfort level.

 

One final note: personal experience has taught LPNN that calls from scam numbers will not leave a voicemail; so when in doubt, don’t answer and wait until the caller leaves a message. If they don’t, it was probably a scam.

 

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