Protect yourself from holiday scams

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Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos is reminding Southwest Michigan families to be mindful of holiday scams and to take steps to protect their personal information.

“The holiday season is a wonderful time to gather with family and friends. Unfortunately, it is also the season for scammers and cybercriminals,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Although the internet has increased convenience for shoppers, it has also made it easier for scam artists to commit financial or identification crimes.”

Online shoppers should keep browser and security software up-to-date, make sure to use only legitimate and secure websites and be wary of clicking on links on social media or in emails.

“A few simple rules to follow to avoid most scams are to never give out your credit card, bank account or Social Security numbers and to never click on unfamiliar links or open email from unknown senders,” Proos said. “Cyberthieves often try to misrepresent themselves as charities or legitimate businesses, especially during the holidays. They send out malicious emails designed to convince you to give them your personal financial information or click on links that download malware on your computer and steal your identity and passwords.”

For more information, the attorney general’s office offers “Consumer Alerts” on its website at www.michigan.gov/ag under “Services.” The alerts feature advice on numerous consumer issues, including identity theft and popular scams. In the “Shopping for Products & Services” category is the “’Tis the Season for Protecting Yourself When Making Purchases” alert, which includes several tips about online shopping and having a happy return, if necessary.

Residents may report a suspected scam to the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-765-8388 or clicking on “File a Complaint” on the attorney general’s website.

The Better Business Bureau also offers information on scams and a link to report them at BBB Scam Stopper.

“With the help of a few tips and a little common sense, residents can help ensure that this Christmas is full of joy instead of headaches,” Proos said.

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.