Avoiding a scam this holiday season - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Avoiding a scam this holiday season

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By Ashley Conroy

BOVINA, MS (WLBT) - The Better Business Bureau says the holidays are often a time when scammers try to take advantage of consumers.

Longtime Bovina resident Martha Easterwood received a letter from Publishers Clearing House stating she had won $325,000 dollars. She thought it was her lucky day.

"I thought I'd won!" Easterwood said.

To Easterwood, the letter looked official and even had a number for her to call back. However, in the letter it said she needed to deposit a $2,900 dollar check to pay for taxes to receive her award.

"When I called Publishing House they said, we don't do things like that," Easterwood said. "We never send a letter out, we bring the check to you."

Bill Moak from the BBB says any notification asking you to pay first should send a red flag.

"Because you're not going to have to pay anything if someone is giving you money or if you've actually won a sweepstakes," Moak said.

In addition, Moak says to be wary of job hunter scams, mystery shopping scams, and even the "friend/family" member in distress scam known as the "Grandparent Scam."

"It generally is someone calling you saying hi, I'm such and such, and I'm calling on behalf of your son or daughter who's off somewhere."

Moak says then the scammer will try to take the person's money their contacting.

To avoid this, Meredith Aldridge, director of the Consumer Protection Division in the Office of the Attorney General, says to contact them immediately and report any suspicious activity.

"We can again help them walk through the steps they need to take to protect themselves," Aldridge said. "Everything from filing a report with our office to their local police department to getting a fraud alert on their credit accounts."

Easterwood considers herself lucky after dodging a bullet, and now wants others to do the same.

"And I suggest to other people if they get something in the mail like this to check it out before they do anything."

To report a scam with the Attorney General's Office call: 1 (800) 281-4418 or go to their website: www.ago.state.ms.us

©2010 WLBT. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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