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SHERIFF KOON'S COLUMN: Watch out for scams

Lexington, SC 12/24/2020 - With Christmas season comes more generosity. People are giving and sharing and spreading holiday joy. This is the perfect time for thieves to take advantage of your generosity and distraction of holiday celebrations. They use world events like the newest vaccine to trick people into buying fake products or sharing personal information. Scams can happen to anyone.


Be alert online and in-person with these tips to keep you safe into the new year:


- Be very cautious of websites and retailers selling products that claim to treat or prevent COVID-19. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, visit the CDC website for guidance and speak to a medical professional. “Some people and companies are trying to profit from this pandemic by selling unproven and illegally marketed products that make false claims, such as being effective against the coronavirus” (FDA). Fraudulent COVID-19 products are being sold as dietary supplements, foods and more. However, there is currently only one FDA-approved treatment at this time.


- Be wary of fake charities and fundraising events. Thieves use social media channels and emails to trick you into giving them money or donations, using your sympathy to their advantage. If you’re unsure about a non-profit, check their status on the Secretary of State website. Never click on links in emails from unknown senders.


- Nothing is really free. If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is. If you see ads and links claiming free gift cards, money and presents. Proceed with extreme caution. Online scammers are plentiful. Since more people are shopping online due to the pandemic, there are more opportunities for scammers to get what they want.


- Never wire money to someone you don’t know. Never send your bank account number to a stranger. When using credit cards to purchase items online, check your credit card company or bank statement frequently.


- Getting your hands on a limited edition toy or heavily sought-after product this month? Is it cheaper than you thought? You may be receiving a counterfeit item. Call the manufacturer if you think this is the case.


Think you may have been a victim of a scam? Call us to report it.


Stay safe. Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!


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