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How to Avoid Getting Scammed During the Holidays – Part 2

Last week, we discussed 5 types of scams to look out for during the holiday season and how to avoid them. This week we will discuss more ways to keep yourself safe and what to do if you think you’ve bee scammed.

How to Verify Who You’re Sending Money To:

Perpetrators know how to make their scams look legitimate. They’ll adapt common things, such as local area codes or email addresses, to look recognizable enough to trick people into thinking they’re legitimate.

If you’re ever unsure of who might be contacting you, or where you’re sending money to, use these resources to verify the business or charity, or cross-check it with other scams:

  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB) – The BBB has an entire database that keeps track of scams. You can search via business or charity name, keyword or scam type. The BBB is also a great resource to verify if a business is legitimate by searching the business name on its homepage. You’ll be able to find BBB-accredited and non-accredited businesses and their rating.
  • The FTC – The FTC’s scam alert page is regularly updated with blog posts about current scams. You can also enroll in email updates to stay in-the-know about scams.
  • Charity Navigator – This nonprofit evaluates charities based on their financial health, accountability and transparency. It also provides information about how donations are used, so you can know exactly how your money will make an impact.

3 Steps to Take If You Think You’ve Been Scammed

Realizing you’ve fallen victim to a scam can be overwhelming. You might experience feelings of guilt or shame for falling into the scammer’s trap. What’s most important, though, is you take action quickly to remedy the situation.

  1. Contact your credit union or bank immediately. If you wired a fake business money, or paid with a credit or debit card, contact your bank immediately and explain that you’ve been a victim of fraud. Ask for the transaction to be canceled and for your money back. In some cases, the payment may have already gone through, and it’ll be too late to stop it—but according to the National Consumer Law Center, consumers can still dispute the payment after the fact to try and get their money back.
  2. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Filing a complaint with the FTC about the scam could help protect others from falling victim to the same practices. After filling out a report, the FTC will also provide you with next steps on how to protect yourself, such as potential ways to get your money back.
  3. Freeze your credit reports. If your identifying information has been stolen as part of a scam, you’ll want to freeze your credit reports immediately. Doing so is free, and potential creditors won’t be able to access information required to approve new credit applications, which will help prevent scammers from opening accounts in your name.

(Partially Reprinted from forbes.com)

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