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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opportunistic scammers get busy during holidays

Watch out: Sending a letter from Santa to your grandchildren could be a trick by scammers trying to hijack your personal information and subject you to identity theft, warns the AARP and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.

Here are several tips for making the holiday season scam-free:

• Santa: There’s a current phishing scheme by email promoting sending a letter from Santa to your children or grandchildren. Remember to only deal with organizations and people you know when opening unsolicited emails. Don’t provide personal or financial information. If you do get scammed, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (bbb.org).

• Shopping: Be aware of copycat internet sites mimicking well-known retailers. Also avoid package delivery hoaxes usually offered by email or phone.

To shop safely, don’t click on an unknown link from an unsolicited email or social media site unless you are absolutely sure it is from a legitimate business. Before making a purchase, do an online search for the “vendor name + scam.”

When shopping at brick-and-mortar stores, use your credit card instead of your debit card for better protection.

• Fake greeting cards: Be careful of ecards that look legitimate but may contact spyware or a computer virus once you click on it. Don’t open the card if the sender is someone unknown, the URL looks odd or your name is misspelled. Keep your antivirus software up to date. Look for a confirmation code accompanying the ecard, which usually takes you to the website issuing the card.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of identity theft or fraud, contact the AARP Foundation Fraud Fighter Center at (800) 646-2283 for help. 

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