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Better Business Bureau warns people to stay alert for scams, even after the holidays are over

With Christmas behind us, some of these scams may not be as much of a concern now, but the Better Business Bureau wants people to stay alert to several scams that are prevalent throughout the year. 

The Wichita Eagle reports six scams in particular to be mindful of.

The first is look-alike websites. Scammers are getting better at creating websites that look like real websites with the goal of getting people to provide private information. Some fake websites mimic government websites to trick people into providing information like addresses or social security numbers that they can use at a later date and fake retail websites are designed to direct users to a screen where they can place what they believe to be real orders, but scammers use the screen to gather credit card information.

Actual government website addresses will end with .gov and the payment page of a retailer website should include “http” followed by an “s”  in the website address. Other tools for authenticating a website can be found by searching for “how to verify that a retail site is genuine.”

Another scam that has been known to be particularly effective in defrauding the elderly is the ‘stranded relative’ scam, which involves someone making an urgent call posing as a relative who is in trouble and in need of money. Scammers who use this trick have even gotten smart enough to tell the person who answers the call not to check with parents or other relatives to keep the person from confirming whether the story is true. 

A third scam involves gift cards, which are often located in checkout aisles at retail stores, where scammers can easily record numbers off of them and then place back on the shelf. When someone buys the card, the scammer quickly spends the money before the person who actually bought the card.

To guard against this, as the Wichita Eagle reports, people should take gift cards from the middle or back of the rack and also check for package tampering. 

Consumers should also be mindful of sellers who request unusual forms of payment, like prepaid debit cards or wire transfers. Typically these scams are done by a phone call demanding payment for a bogus past due bill.

Another scam involves the promise by an individual to provide an item, or pet in some cases, after posting a photo online and then promising delivery of the item after payment. 

Ways to protect oneself against this scam is to realize prices that look to good to be true usually are and by checking online ads for spelling or grammar errors, which are typically telltale signs of an overseas scammer.

Perhaps the most despicable scam is the one that involves fake charitable causes. Scammers who use this ploy typically use names that sound legitimate, but are not. To confirm if a charity is the real thing, visit the Better Business Bureau’s website, bbb.org and confirm that it is a 501 (c)(3) organization.

Questions or concerns about any of the above or other types of scams can be directed to the Better Business Bureau at 800-856-2417 or at www.bbbinc.org