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Season of scamming?


With the holiday season upon us, folks are in the spirit of giving. Sadly, many are taking advantage of that generosity. In a recent press release from Andrew Bailey, the Missouri Attorney General, he asks fellow Missourians to be cautious of scammers, especially this time of year.

"As we enter the holiday season, I want to educate the public on potential scams, including those involving gift cards," said Attorney General Bailey. "The Attorney General's Office works tirelessly to go after scammers who take advantage of consumers, and I want all Missourians to know that we are a resource if they need assistance. I will continue to do all I can to make sure Missourians hold onto their hard-earned dollars, especially during the holidays."

Many scams will start simply with a call, text, email, or a direct message on social media. The scammers will tell elaborate, sad stories to exploit people's generosity.

The most common tricks scammers use are the following:

They will say the matter is urgent and to pay them immediately or something terrible will happen. Scammers don't want you to have time to think about what they're saying or talk to someone you trust. Slow down. Don't pay. It's a scam.

Scammers will tell you what gift cards to buy and where. They may tell you to put money on an eBay, Google Play, Target, or Apple gift card. They might send you to a specific store. Often Walmart, Target, CVS, or Walgreens.

Sometimes, scammers tell you to buy cards at several stores so that cashiers won't get suspicious. The scammer might also stay on the phone while you go to the store and load money onto the card. If this happens to you, hang up. It's a scam.

They then will ask you for the gift card number and PIN. The card number and PIN on the back of the card let the scammer get the money you loaded onto the card immediately, even if you still have it. Slow down. Please don't give them those numbers or send them a photo of the card. It's a scam.

It is a scam if you buy a gift card and give someone you do not know the numbers. Use your gift card and store receipt for the following steps:

Report the scam to the gift card company right away. No matter how long ago the scam happened, report it.

Ask for your money back. Some companies are helping stop gift card scams and might give your money back. It's worth asking.

Lastly, Attorney General Bailey encourages those who believe they are victims of a scam to contact the Attorney General's Office's Consumer Hotline at 1-800-392-8222 or online at www.ago.mo.gov.

It is the season of giving. Just be sure you know who you are giving to.


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