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Scammers know no limits when targeting victims
Budgets can be tight this time of year, so it’s easy to imagine an essential bill — like natural gas or electricity — might fall through the cracks.
If you receive a call about one of the above, however, don’t assume you’re at fault.
The McCook Police Department reports that it’s received several reports of callers claiming to be a utility provider, advising the victim that their bill is past due, and directing them to send payment immediately via Money Pak, a wire transfer service.
Residents should be aware that most legitimate businesses will not demand payment in any form other than cash, checks or debit/credit cards.
If you receive such a call, contact the actual business directly, using the contact number that appears on your bill (NOT any number provided by the caller), to check on the status of your account.
That’s only one of many scams that can strike, however, especially around the holidays.
According to the National Retail Federation, other common ones include:
— Online shopping scams. A great online deal or a hot item at an inflated price might seem like a good way to check items off your Christmas list, but not if you don’t receive the item, Make sure any business that sells you something has a physical address and any URL where you make a purchase begins with “https://” for security.
The same goes for Facebook or Craigslist sales.
— Don’t let someone steal your wallet or identification, or catch your PIN number over your shoulder at an ATM or terminal.
— Make sure the charity you’re giving to is legitimate; many scammers use names that are similar to, but different, from actual charities.
— Be extra cautious about e-mails purporting to be from UPS, Federal Express or major retailers with links to package tracking information. They may be phishing scams designed to steal your personal information.
Don’t let a modern day Scrooge or Grinch ruin your holiday.