BBB: Be careful of schemes looking to get your personal information during the holidays

Hampden County

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – A warning about the people who try to steal from you this time of year.

An unwelcome holiday tradition. The Better Business Bureau is warning of schemes that consistently come around every holiday season; from phony charities to free gift cards.

The ‘secret sister gift exchange’ has been making the rounds on social media, asking friends to sign up to give a bottle of wine and get as many as 36 more in return. The BBB called the exchange an illegal pyramid scheme aimed at getting your personal information.

“I’ve seen it a lot on social media. I wouldn’t do it, but I wondered where it originated. They probably think they’re doing something fun or trying to get involved in something good but it’s not. I would beware,” said Karen Shanahan of Northampton.

Crooks also take advantage of people giving gift cards sold at the checkout counter, taking down card numbers and PINs, and tracking when money is loaded onto them.

Allen Demers of Springfield told 22News, “A lot of people don’t even pay attention to their own debit cards, so I doubt a gift card would come to mind. It’s a shame. It’s supposed to be a time of giving, and it’s a time of predatory activity.”

Consumer reports recommends purchasing gift cards online directly from the retailer, rather than from racks inside stores, to make sure the card isn’t compromised.

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