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Top 3 holiday scams you and your loved ones need to know about

Would you pay to have your name put on the COVID-19 vaccine list? If you answered yes, we have some awful news for you. Not only does such a list not exist, but you have just fallen for one of many scams that are going around right now.

Christmas and the holiday season are supposed to be a time of joy, family and good times. But scammers will use every opportunity, including Christmas and the COVID-19 pandemic, to steal your money. Tap or click here for the worst identity theft scam you’ve never heard of

We have put together a list of three of the most prevalent scams making the rounds. We’ll tell you what to look out for, what you should do and how not to become a victim in the future.

1. Family emergency scam

Scammers will often impersonate a distant relative or a long-lost friend when trying to swindle you out of money. By going through your social media information, they often see your family connections and use that information to their advantage.

By claiming to have been in an accident, in the hospital, arrested or have a broken-down car, they will try to appeal to your compassion so that you send them money.

Be very careful if you get a phone or message from someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, and they are asking for cash. The scammers can also employ another person to act like a policeman, hospital nurse or traffic officer.

Things you should do:

  • If you have an alternative contact number for the person, try to reach them there. You could also contact related family members to verify the claim.
  • Scammers are hoping that you will be panicked or confused and will act impulsively. After getting a phone call or message, take a breather. Think about the situation for a bit and try to verify the situation independently.
  • Never send money, no matter how convincing the scammers might sound, before verifying who you’re actually sending payment to.

Note: If you have older relatives, it’s a good idea to share this article with them. Many of the scams going around now target the elderly.

2. Delivery scams

We have covered delivery scams in the past, but they seem to be more prevalent leading up to Christmas.

RELATED: Holiday deliveries on the way? 6 ways to protect your packages

The scam involves criminals sending you a bogus text message about a missed delivery and urge you to text them back or click on a link. Criminals can also phone you from a random number and claim the same missed delivery.

According to BeenVerified Spam Call Complaint Monitor, this scam has been the most often reported by consumers this year. Nearly 10% of all reports involved the missed delivery scam.

Things you should do:

  • If you are not expecting any deliveries, delete the message. Do not respond to it, as the scammers will know that your phone number is active, the address is correct and they have your attention.
  • The text message may contain a link where you supposedly rebook the delivery. The message and the link are fakes and you will be sent to a fraudulent website. In many cases, you’ll be asked for sensitive information like payment details at the fraudulent sites.
  • Never give out personal information to somebody that you don’t trust. If the call or message comes from a real delivery company, they should already have your details and the tracking number.

3. COVID-related scams

Not likely to go away anytime soon, scams surrounding COVID-19 have become extremely rampant. There are several ways criminals can extract information from you, and some are even so brazen as to offer vaccines for a fee.

RELATED: Crazy Facebook conspiracy theory, Apple’s $550 headphones, vaccine scams

If anybody contacts you offering the vaccine in exchange for money, it is a scam. There is no telling what will be in the syringe (if they even provide one), and you will be out of pocket.

Similarly, the Federal Trade Commission stresses that you also can’t pay to have your name put on a vaccine list. There is no such list, and vaccines are currently administered in particular age and health groups.

While the pandemic is still raging, scammers are also trying to cash in on the rush for cleaning products. The FDA has received several complaints of scammers selling what appears to be real cleaning products on a fake website. You will not receive your products, and the criminals will walk off with your money.

Tap or click here for details on sites selling fake cleaning products.

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