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11/19/2012 3:32:00 PM
GCSO warns of holiday scams

Brian King
Staff Writer


The Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office is warning Greenwood County residents to be aware of potential scams that could lead to credit card fraud, identity theft and more.

Major Sonny Cox of the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office says that people are lured in by receiving an email or text message saying that they have won a prize.

“If you get something unsolicited and you didn’t enter anything, don’t believe it,” Cox says. “If you didn’t enter to anything then you can’t win anything.”

Many are familiar with “phishing” scams in which potential victims receive an email that appears to be from a reputable source notifying them that they have won a prize. The emails say that a condition of receiving the prize is providing personal information such as passwords, bank account information, social security numbers and credit card numbers. Most places that offer up prizes, typically in the form of gift cards, have a policy stating that they will never ask for personal information.

With the more widespread use of smartphones, a new scam has reared its head – “smishing.” “Smishing” is the same as “phishing,” except that the scam utilizes text messages instead of emails. There are three very common “smishing” scams making their rounds through Greenwood currently. They tell potential victims that have won a $1,000 gift card to Wal-Mart, Best Buy or Target and send a link in the text message.

“The ‘smishing’ scams are using popular retailer names and popularity to lure in victims,” Cox says. “If you click on the link in the text message to sign up for the free gift card, you will be asked for personal information that could be used to steal your identity.”

Theses scams are easier than ever to fall for given that many popular retail chains often give away gift cards for those taking the time to fill out a customer satisfaction survey. Cox warns that the holiday season makes consumers even more vulnerable since the scams appear more legitimate if they happen to coincide with an online purchase made from one of the retailers. Cox also says that many scams tend to target the elderly, but that everyone should be aware of the many scams currently circulating.

Cox also offered the following advice:

-          Discuss “smishing” scams with all members of the family who have cell phones, from the youngest to the oldest.

-          Do not click on links in text messages or emails offering prizes or free products or trial offers.

-          Delete any texts or emails that claim you have won a prize or are eligible for a free product.

-          Do not provide personal information to claim prizes or to sign up for free trials.

-          Never give your credit card number, social security number or bank account information to pay for fees, taxes or shipping costs for anything that you may have won or are getting for free.

-          Check your bank statements and credit cards on a regular basis for unauthorized charges.

-          Check your family’s credit reports with all three credit bureaus annually for any unauthorized credit accounts that have been opened using your social security numbers. You can get a free credit report at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, contact the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office.



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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Article comment by: Alishia Richey

Also contact your cell service provider to have the texts blocked. I simply deleted the texts and did not reply thinking that would solve the issue. Later on I contacted Verizon to inquire about a reoccuring fee that I was not sure about, and I was informed that I had subscribed to "premium texting" because I had not texted "stop" or "quit" in reply to the texts. I disputed the charges but was told that I should have contacted verizon and had them blocked. Hope this helps someone else from being unknowingly charged for something they do not want!!!!



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