Preventing holiday consumer fraud scams

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Updated: 12/07/2012 5:48 pm
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & -- Nevada has the fourth highest number of consumer complaints filed, according to the Federal Trade Commission, and the holidays are prime time for scams.

"This is when scam artists come out of the woodwork," said Tim Johnston, CEO of Northern Nevada Better Business Bureau.

Both Johnston and Bridget Small, assistant director of consumer and business education for the Federal Trade Commission, advise consumers to watch out for scams during the holidays.

"The hard thing about this time of year is there are so many distractions and demands on our attention," Small said. "It can be hard to just take a minute and notice what you're doing."
Bad guys take advantage of that.

Johnston says it's best to stick with companies you know. 

"If you do business with somebody that has no presence other than online, you might be at a dead end to get any recourse, whether that be a refund or exchange, whatever the case may be," Johnston said.

Also beware when buying gift cards online.

"[Don't buy] them from online auctions or sources that might not be directly from the retailer or authorized distributors because you might be buying some bogus cards," Johnston said.

If you're using a mobile app to find deals, Small says make sure to read the fine print before you download it.

"Are they going to track your location? Are they going to be able to get into the calendar or the call logs on your mobile device? You may not really want that," Small said. "That may not be a good trade off for you in exchange of the coupon."

If you're using your phone on a public wi-fi connection - remember they're not always secure. 

"If you're going on there and doing some of your banking, or going onto a social network, sharing personal information, that may be put out into the open for anyone else who's in that mobile hotspot," Small said.

If you do have an issue, make sure to tell the authorities not just friends and family.

"That helps future consumers to know maybe I won't do business with that company because they don't take care of them like I would expect them to," Johnston said.
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