Montana officials offer advice for avoiding holiday scams

Posted at 7:42 AM, Dec 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-10 09:45:11-05

BOZEMAN – It’s easy to get distracted this time of year while at the same time feeling an extra sense of joy and compassion. Unfortunately, scammers are oftentimes more successful during the holiday season.

Cory Klumb, Captain of Detectives at the Bozeman Police Department, said he’s seen a number of people fall victim to scams over the years.

“I think people use the holiday season to prey on people’s good will and nature and holiday spirit,” he said.

Klumb added he doesn’t necessarily think scams increase during this time of year, but he believes scammers take advantage of people’s vulnerabilities during the holidays.

If something seems too good to be true, it usually is. A piece of advice is to never part with financial information over the telephone unless you initiated the contact. If someone calls you claiming to be whoever, do not give them your financial information.

According to Klumb, scammers often try to create a sense of urgency. They might tell you your computer has a terrible virus you need to fix right now or that you owe the IRS money that has to be paid immediately.

Officials advise you take a deep breath and verify information. In addition, you should never have to send money to retrieve a prize you’ve supposedly won.

Klumb said winnings are winnings. You do not have to buy the winnings or send any funds to collect your prize. If you do fall victim to a scam, contact your financial institution immediately.

Hannah Stiff is a manager with the Better Business Bureau. She said you also need to be cautious while online shopping this time of year.

“If you are at a safe site, you’re gonna want to look for ‘https,’” she said. “The ‘s’ is for secure so you know you’re at a safe website.”

Stiff added the lock icon next to the website’s URL address is also an indication of whether a website is secure.

“The other big thing to be wary of is if you’re going to the right site so a lot of these scammers during the holidays will create a fictitious site like a site you know and love. Maybe it sounds like Amazon, but has an extra word tacked on the end,” she said.

The sad reality is that scams have become more commonplace throughout the year. Klumb said as scammers continue to use more sophisticated tactics, potential victims have to remain calm and vigilant.

“Honestly, if they would spend as much time doing legitimate work as they put into these scams, they could make an honest living and help people rather than scamming,” he said.

Click here to report a scam or search for scams happening in Montana.

-Patrice Parks reporting for MTN News