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Top 5 Holiday Scams & How To Avoid Them

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - It is no coincidence that during the season of giving and spending, the Better Business Bureau says it sees an increase in scams.

"The holiday season is a prime time for scammers," said Jeannette Kopko with the Dallas chapter of the BBB.
Kopko said thieves take advantage of the emotions that often come with the holidays and bet many people are too busy this time of year to see some of the warning signs.
With the help of the BBB, here's out top five holiday scams to look out for.
1.      Shipping notification email -  With all the shipping you'll likely be doing this holiday season, it may seem reasonable to receive a shipping notification e-mail from what appears to be the United States Postal Service or a private carrier like FedEx. However, the FBI warns when you click on these files too often it's a computer virus. The virus, without your knowledge, can retrieve personal information from your computer.
2.      Gift card scam - When you buy a gift card at a store, check to make sure someone hasn't already scratched off the activation code. The BBB says thieves will copy the numbers down and then  wait until the card is activated. When you go and try to use the card, you may find the thieves have already spent the balance on the card online.
           Consumers should also be careful when buying gift cards online.
"They might buy a card with a stolen credit card and then sell it to you through an online auction site," said Jeannette Kopko. "So you think you are buying a valuable card but it's really worthless."
3.      Santa letter offer - If you receive an unsolicited email offering to send your child a personal note from Santa Claus, the BBB said it most likely is a phishing scam trying to steal your identity.
4.      Social media toy 'giveaway' ads - Be the lookout for pop-up ads on Facebook offering a 'giveaway' or 'raffle' of the season's hottest toys.  Trend Micro, an internet security company, recently identified these types of 'giveaway' scams featuring PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The ads often ask for a cell number when you sign-up and then lure you into a paid text messaging scheme.
5.      Counterfeit toys -Not only are counterfeit toys illegal but can pose a safety risk to your child.
In recent years the US Department of Homeland Security has seized toys from China being sold in the US featuring popular children's characters, including: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spiderman, and characters from the Disney movies Cars and Frozen. When making purchases online, make sure you're using a legitimate website to avoid purchasing a counterfeit.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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