EP police gives advice on avoiding holiday scams

While the holidays are typically a time for peace and goodwill, this time of year can also be an opportunity for criminals to take advantage of holiday shoppers.

The Eden Prairie Police Department offers advice to reduce the chances of getting scammed during the holidays. If you plan to purchase items through an online market such as Craigslist or Facebook, make sure you follow these suggestions:

• Only deal with local people.

• Transfer money in person in a well-lit, public area – not your home.

• Do not accept cashier’s checks, certified checks or money orders. Accept cash only.

• Never give out your financial information.

The police department receives calls from residents regarding fraud cases every week. In mid-November, a man met with a woman at Eden Prairie Center to sell her a cell phone he had posted for sale on a Facebook group. When he showed her the phone, she grabbed it and fled in the car she was sitting in.

A scam that the department has seen several instances of involves victims being sent cashier’s checks for items they’ve posted for sale on Craigslist. The victim cashes the check then sends the item, only to find out that the cashier’s check was fraudulent, as the check contained stolen names and checking account numbers.

Residents have also reported that they’ve opened emails that look like they come from legitimate companies asking for credit card information or to confirm an identity. The emails are fake and are generated by scammers trying to gather personal and financial data in order to commit identity theft crimes.

Legitimate financial institutions, such as banks and credit card companies, never send emails asking for personal information. Only give personal information when you have initiated
contact.

Info: ftc.gov