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Holiday scams are on the rise

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The number one holiday scam is the misleading advertisement you see while scrolling through your social media feed, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports.

The BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report has online purchase scams at the top of the list when it comes to number of people getting something other than what they ordered, not getting anything at all, or getting charged for a free trial.

The scam tracker shows 132 scams have been reported in the Martinsville area, the most recent for $190.

“I ordered and never got any confirmation email or response from the website,” the complainant states. “Upon looking online I saw others experienced the same so I opened a dispute with PayPal.”

PayPal eventually determined the merchandise was not only sent to the wrong address, but determined to be counterfeit, the complainant wrote. “They were able to investigate and determine this was a scam site.”

Second on the list is the social media gift exchange. The latest version of this illegal pyramid scheme encourages you purchase a gift online and send it to a stranger as a way to “pay it forward.”

And watch out for those holiday apps that contain malware, notices that appear to come from Amazon or PayPal claiming your account has been compromised.

If you get an email requesting your personal information in order to receive a free gift card or that you have been randomly selected as the winner of a contest you haven’t entered, the BBB recommends you delete it and don’t click on any of the links within it.

Even the offer of temporary holiday jobs, especially those that offer an opportunity that is too good to be true, it probably is.

In addition to fake websites, charities and shipping notifications steal your private information and lead you to malware downloads.

If you see an offer for a luxury item or electronics at a ridiculously low price, it’s almost always a knockoff.

Watch out for the increasingly popular puppy scam in which a deposit is required to buy a dog — which does not exist. The rule here is if you can’t see the pet in person, don’t risk the purchase.

Not to mention that there are more than enough puppies and dogs in the local animal shelters.

When you have performed your due diligence and the merchandise you’ve ordered has been delivered, Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry says, you should be on alert for a possible visit by a porch pirate.

Perry sent out a reminder that the theft of delivered packages from doorsteps is on the rise.

“These thieves ride around looking for packages that have been delivered and left outside,” Perry said in the release. “In some cases the thieves may follow delivery trucks and come back after the package has been delivered.”

Perry recommends these tips to deter porch pirates:

  • Have you packages delivered somewhere where someone can receive them in-person.
  • Neighbors should help each other watch for deliveries and help keep each other’s packages secure.
  • Track your deliveries online.
  • Provide delivery instructions to have packages left out of sight.
  • Video doorbells and camera systems are good at preventing thefts and help law enforcement if a theft does occur.
  • Request a signature confirmation of delivery.
  • Insure your items, especially those that are valuable.
  • Report any suspicious activity including descriptions and direction of travel.

Perry said some of the usual scammers are also making their rounds in the area this holiday season, including people offering to seal or pave your driveway, saying they accept payment with gift or money cards.

And if you get a phone call from someone who says a family member has been arrested or injured and you need to send money with a pre-paid money card, call the police and have them look into it.

Bill Wyatt is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. He can be reached at 276-638-8801, Ext. 2360. Follow him @billdwyatt.

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