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How to protect yourself against the most common holiday scams

Updated November 29, 2019 - 3:37 am

Two of the biggest shopping days of the year are here, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and that means thieves are out in full force looking to get your money, identity and more.

We asked Las Vegans what scams they’ve seen during the holidays.

“I work at a call center, and we get a lot more calls now about donating to charities,” Jessi Sommer said. “We are legally not allowed to donate, but we’re definitely getting more than we usually do throughout the year.”

Potential scams aren’t limited to phone calls.

“People will come to your window and say, ‘I’m stuck, I’m from out of town, can I borrow some money from you?’ So, try to stay away from that because it’s usually someone trying to get money out of you,” Jorge Santiago said.

And sometimes scammers target folks on the Las Vegas Strip looking to have a good time.

“Sometimes people will copy-paste VIP lists and have you pay on the spot,” Kannon Teekah said. “Then when you come to the club to verify the VIP invite, it turns out it’s not real.”

Laura Tucker, senior deputy attorney general for the Bureau of Consumer Protection, offered best practices to avoid fraud during the holiday season.

“Scammers particularly try to take advantage of people during the holidays because it’s the time of year when people are feeling more in the festive and giving mood,” Tucker said. “They are counting on people to give a quick yes to charitable solicitations.”

■ Be aware that you can always ask to take down the charity’s information to donate at a later date. A legitimate charity will not use high pressure to entice you to donate right then.

■ Avoid making a donation without doing research first. Ask for detailed information about the charity, including the name, address and telephone number. Then conduct some online searches of the charity name in combination with the words “complaint” or “scam” to learn about its reputation. Using online resources offered by the Better Business Bureau can provide assurance about the trustworthiness of a particular charity.

■ Be wary of solicitations from professional fundraisers who make it seem like they represent a charity. Call the charity directly to verify whether the fundraisers are authorized to act on its behalf. Never make checks payable to a fundraiser, and refrain from providing your credit card number to a fundraiser. It is safest to mail your check directly to the charity.

■ Ask for a receipt showing the amount of your contribution. Be wary of promises of guaranteed sweepstakes or prizes in exchange for a contribution. Donations never have to be given to be eligible to win a prize or sweepstakes.

■ Review the charity’s financial information or its Form 990. For information on the Form 990, visit the Nevada secretary of state website.

■ If a charity claims to use your donations to help the local community, contact the local agency and confirm whether the agency is familiar with the charity and receives financial support from it.

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