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The Voice of the Tyrone Area High School

Tyrone Eagle Eye News

The Voice of the Tyrone Area High School

Tyrone Eagle Eye News

Watch Out for Scams this Holiday Season

Watch+Out+for+Scams+this+Holiday+Season

Christmas is right around the corner, and while most people are spreading holiday cheer and generosity, every year scammers also use the holidays to cheat people out of their money.

The state Attorney General’s Office is warning Pennsylvania residents that scams typically increase during the holiday season.

“It is that special time of year — for an increase in the frequency of scams we see taking place all year long, so it is vital that Pennsylvanians remain on guard,” Attorney General Michelle Henry said in a press release. “Take some time to learn what these scams look like to protect your property, finances, identity, and other personal information.”

There have been several reports of scams in central Pennsylvania over the past few months.

It is that special time of year — for an increase in the frequency of scams we see taking place all year long, so it is vital that Pennsylvanians remain on guard

— PA Attorney General Michelle Henry

Tyrone art teacher Eric Feather said that a report was circulated at his church in Claysburg that donation boxes for the Altoona Rescue Mission were being targeted by scammers.

The Rescue Mission has donation boxes all around the region to collect donations of clothes, shoes, and household items. Donations go to local families in need and homeless shelters, but this good deed was being exploited by at least one group of unscrupulous people.

The scammers were using the fake boxes to skim the more valuable donations off the top for resale and discarding the rest.

While it is sad that people are stealing donations, Feather emphasized that while people need to be cautious, they should not be discouraged from giving to charities.

“After all, that’s what we are called to do. However, with just a little time we should try and make sure the organizations we donate to are reputable so we know the donations are getting to the people who need it,” said Feather.

Other common methods of scamming people for money during the holidays include fake gift cards or fake websites designed to steal personal information and credit card numbers.

Some of these fake websites create fake advertisements that present very good holiday limited sales to entice you to click on them. Once you click on the ads it brings you to a fake website where you’re met with even more advertisements hoping to take your money.

One method to look out for the most this holiday season is gift card scams. Scammers go into stores and place fake gift cards on the racks knowing somebody will eventually buy them. Entering the numbers on the card will give away your personal information.

Gift card and website scams are two methods scammers use nationwide around Christmas time but there’s one in particular that specifically applies to Altoona or maybe even Tyrone.

The Office of the Attorney General is also advising residents to look out for these common scams:

  • Email and Text Phishing – In this scam, you may receive an email or text message directing you to enter personal information on a fraudulent website. These fraudulent emails or texts can appear to be from a shipping/delivery company or retailer that may claim to be an order confirmation you didn’t place.
  • Delivery Stealing – If no one is home when deliveries are made, try to make arrangements with a trusted neighbor to hold your deliveries until you arrive home, or ask your employer if your deliveries can be dropped off at your place of employment.
  • Credit Card Skimming – Be vigilant of credit card skimmers that steal your credit and debit card information at the ATM, gas pump, or other payment kiosks. Instead of inserting your credit or debit card into the slot of a merchant’s payment processing machine, consider using a payment app on your smartphone. For Pennsylvanians without smartphones, keeping track of your bank statements and transactions is also crucial to any lost money taken by skimmers.

Attorney General Henry is also reminding Pennsylvanians to consider the following preventative tactics:

  • Set up email or text alerts with your credit card company or bank, so you will be alerted quickly to all purchases, including fraudulent purchases.
  • Install the latest security updates and run virus scans regularly on your computer or mobile device.
  • Never use your home’s smart device, such as Alexa, Siri, or Google Home, to find a customer support number for any company, and have the system dial it for you. Go directly to the company’s website, call the number on the back of your credit or debit card, or the number on your billing statement.
  • Never pay with a prepaid gift card, CashApp, or Venmo or wire someone money when you’re trying to buy a gift online. Use your credit card, not a debit card, for better protection.
  • Never click on a hyperlink in an email, social media ad, or text message to make a purchase. Go directly to the website of the store you wish to purchase from to ensure you are shopping at the right place.
  • Gift cards are for gifts– you cannot pay a bill or debt owed to the government through a gift card.

These shallow methods shouldn’t discourage people from donating to people in need, but they should give you a reason to be cautious around this time of year.

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About the Contributor
Alex Shock
Alex Shock, Staff Writer
Alex Shock is a senior entering his first year in Eagle Eye Newspaper. This year, he is going to be active in multiple different clubs and groups. These groups consist of Youth Action Network (YAN), Golden Revolution, and the Ski Club in the winter season. All of the said clubs will surely look great on his resume when he applies for PennWest Clarion University, hoping to achieve a Master's degree in Psychology. Alex enjoys watching and playing basketball in his free time, as well as hanging out with friends and family. A fun fact about Alex is that he was born and spent the majority of his childhood in none other than Bellwood, Tyrone's biggest rival!

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