Beware of scams this holiday season

Published: Dec. 7, 2016 at 3:01 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 7, 2016 at 3:33 AM EST
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The holidays tend to bring out not just the good in people, but also the bad in some.

That's why Attorney General Luther Strange is urging people to take precautions against scams and other potential dangers.

It's not all cheer and goodwill toward men during the holidays. It's also a time when unscrupulous people try to take advantage of others' generosity.

Alabama's Consumer Interest Division offers these key points to stay safe:

The first to watch out for is scammers posing as family or friends needing help. They may contact you by phone or email pretending to be a family member--away from home--in need of money. They'll tell you they've lost their wallet, or have an emergency to get you to wire cash or provide them with a prepaid card number.  As a general rule, never send money to anyone if you can't verify their identity.  If you're unsure, check with other family members or friends.

The second to watch for are fake charity scams. These scammers use phishing emails, caller ID spoofing or door-to-door visits.  They claim to work for an established charity or may even create a fake one to get donations.  To be safe, directly contact the charity and donate that way.

The last to watch out for is the holiday gift card scam. Scammers will rub off security codes from gift cards while they're still in the store and wait until they think the gift card has been sold and activated.  Then they'll spend the money, leaving nothing on the card.  To avoid this scam, make sure the gift card is intact before you buy it.  Compare it to other gift cards of the same variety.  And keep your receipt.

Attorney General Luther Strange says the best protection is to use your judgement and take time to ask questions so no one steals your joy this season.

To report suspected consumer fraud in Alabama, call the Consumer Protection Hotline at the toll free number at 800-392-5658. Georgia's number is 800-869-1123.

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