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Don't Get Snowed by Scam Artists this Holiday Season

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The holiday season is traditionally a time for giving but for scam artists looking to make a quick buck, it's also a time for taking.

ScamAwareness.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about financial fraud, is warning consumers to watch out for three scams that typically increase during the holidays. 

Internet Purchase Scam
The internet purchase scam is consistently the top fraud complaint reported by U.S. consumers each year. According to the National Retail Federation, this holiday season customers are expected to spend an estimated $117 billion online. These shoppers are prime targets for scam artists offering merchandise, gift cards and even pets at a steep discount.

Many of these offers look too good to be true, and they usually are.

Consumers should never wire money for an online purchase. A money transfer is the same as cash and once it is received it cannot be recovered.

Fake Charity 
American charities receive one-third* of their annual donations during the holiday season. Scammers take advantage of this outpouring of goodwill by creating new charities or misusing the name and brand of a well-known charity to get donations sent directly to them.

Before donating, consumers should verify that the charity and its web address are legitimate. When sending the money, use a check or credit card instead of a wire transfer or cash for donations.

Holiday Employment
Holiday employment scams have many different twists. Some scammers target people looking to earn extra money by offering a person a job that involves spending money up front for "training" or a "start-up kit" that the victim never receives.

Other fraudsters may send a fake check to a "new hire" and ask them to cash it, keep some of the money as payment, and then wire what's left back to them.

The victims in both of these situations end up losing their money and a job they thought they had. Consumers should be aware that no legitimate company will ask them to pay money in order to earn money.   

"Consumers should never send money to someone they really don't know. While they are enjoying their holidays, fraudsters are hard at work plotting to take their money," said Juan Agualimpia, executive vice president of ScamAwareness.org. "Our organization works year-round to help spread the word about common scams and we hope that all consumers will use ScamAwareness.org as a resource this holiday season to learn how to spot scams and protect themselves and their family members."  

Consumers who think they've been scammed should contact their local police immediately. More information about these scams and others can be found at scamawareness.org.

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