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The Perfect Storm For Online Scams

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 05:07 PM CDT

The combination of Hurricane Sandy and the presidential election has created the perfect storm when it comes to online scams. Consumers have a better chance than ever of opening their in-box and finding a message from someone trying to rip them off.

Here are the words consumers don't want to see when they open an email: "You must act now", "€œyou've won a free gift"€, and "€œyou can't afford to miss" what will be sold to you as a no-risk offer.

The FBI says all of these are red flags of a scam. And with Hurricane Sandy hitting right before the election when you open your email keep your finger on that delete button.

Scams blew in with Hurricane Sandy. While we associate flooded streets and damaged homes with super-storms, people living across the country may also start feeling Sandy's impact online.

The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be on the lookout for spam and scam campaigns that could take advantage of their natural tendency to want to help.

To keep criminals from cashing-in make sure the charity has a 501 (c) (3). That means it's recognized by the IRS as a non-profit, tax-exempt charitable organization.

Also, go to give.org to see a national charity's financial information.

“They look into 20 strict standards of charitable accountability. They make sure the charity is legit and is a charity worth donating to,” said Jarrod Wise with the BBB.

Your money and personal information are also on the line with election scams. Consumers are getting unsolicited emails saying they need to provide their social security or credit card number to confirm they're registered to vote.

There are red flags all over this one. First, if you got a yellow voter registration certificate in the mail, you're registered. If you didn't, Travis County has a voter verification website -- http://www.traviscountytax.org/showVoterSearch.do. Just by entering your name you can see if you're eligible to vote November 6th.

No matter who gets your vote on Election Day, make sure you're not supporting scammers by giving out your personal or financial information online.

The FBI says the number of complaints about internet scams keeps going up. Last year Americans filed more than 300,000 reports claiming to have been ripped off on the internet. The top states for complaints: California, Florida and Texas.

By Bettie CrossThe Perfect Storm For Online Scams


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