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Beware the ‘Twelve Scams of Christmas’ to make avoid holiday fright

I asked the Better Business Bureau team that answers phones each day to help me rewrite the “Twelve Days of Christmas” to help educate you about common holiday scams. Feel free to sing along.

▪  Twelve scammers scamming: It’s hard to believe someone could devote every waking moment to devising new ways to rip you off, but that’s the case and the scammers are prolific.

▪  Eleven (un)lucky lottery wins: This tops the list for volume of phone calls at the BBB. The scammer calls, saying you’ve won the lottery, then asks you to pay a fee to collect the winnings. Never pay fees up front or taxes to collect a prize.

▪  Ten texted gift cards: Any text that arrives on your cellphone claiming you’ve won a gift card from a retailer is a scam, unless you’ve signed up for a specific giveaway. Even then, be suspicious of the announcement. Hit delete.

▪  Nine naughty pictures: Naughty as in, “Look at what we caught you doing in this Facebook picture.” Don’t fall for the email, text message or social media message that there’s a compromising pic or video of you circulating the net. Hit delete.

▪  Eight charities asking: Make-A-Wish Children’s Foundation is calling into the area, asking for money. Don’t bite. Real charities rarely cold-call. Research a charity and initiate your gift.

▪  Seven shippers shipping: Emails claiming a package is waiting for you or a package you sent did not make its destination are favorite ploys to infect your computer with a virus and capture your personal information. Hit delete.

▪  Six computer viruses: Cat and mouse never goes out of style as the good guys try to stay one step ahead of the bad guys. Update software and stick with trusted sites while browsing.

▪  Five kids crying, “Grandma, I need help!”: Have a family conversation this holiday season — setting a family rule that no one is to wire money to a family member in distress without first verifying the location of the person supposedly in trouble.

▪  Four debt collectors faking: Don’t be scared by the nasty debt collector claiming you owe. Check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com, pay your legitimate bills and dispute the fakes.

▪  Three feigning faxes: From great travel deals to employment posters, don’t trust the mass-faxed message. Shred it.

▪  Two secret shopper swindles: Evaluating customer service sounds like fun, but it will never include an up-front paycheck with instructions to wire most of it away.

▪  And a BBB complaint in my in-box: It’s not the way BBB does business. If you have a question, call us at 208-342-4649.

Merry Christmas!

Dale Dixon is chief innovation officer of the Better Business Bureau Northwest. dale.dixon@thebbb.com.

‘The Twelve Scams of Christmas’

On the twelfth day of Christmas

my not-so-true love sent to me:

Twelve scammers scamming

Eleven (un)lucky lottery wins

Ten texted gift cards

Nine naughty pictures

Eight charities asking

Seven shippers shipping

Six computer viruses

Five kids crying, “Grandma, I need help!”

Four debt collectors faking

Three feigning faxes

Two secret shopper swindles

and a BBB complaint in my in-box

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