Help Desk: 'Tis the season to be scammed

5:13 PM, Dec 19, 2013   |    comments
(Damien Meyer/AFP/Getty Images)
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The Grinch isn't the only one stealing Christmas this year, scammers are in on it too. The Help Desk wants you to know the major holiday scams to avoid this year. 

Be aware of fake charities expecting donations. Scammers are known to set up false charities with names similar to well-known and reputable ones. Many false charities will ask you for cash or wired money. If there is no proof provided that your contribution is tax deductible it's likely to be a scam.  All charities must be registered in your state. You can see all reputable charities by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials. Also, getting as much detailed information as possible about the charity such as name, address and telephone number will better help you decipher authentic charities from the phony ones. 

Resource Guide: Avoiding Holiday Scams 

Though searching for coupons is an easy way for deals on Christmas gifts it is also the prefect way to potentially get scammed. Ensure that the coupon is legit before sharing any personal information. The Better Business Bureau mentions that coupons are always free and you should never have to purchase them. If you are concerned that a coupon may be fake check with the non-profit Coupon Information Center. Expiration dates and legal language is an important indicator of the authenticity of a coupon. Online coupons should match manufacturer requirements. 

Lastly, gift cards make convenient gifts and scams. The Better Business Bureau recommends being cautious when purchasing a gift card online and through individuals, as these can be easily scammed too. Often times, a person can take the funds off of the card before you receive it. Instead, make sure to ask the store cashier to scan the gift card in front of you. This ensures that your card is valid once purchased and also reveals the balance you just charged it with.

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