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5 scams you need to know about this holiday season

Posted at 12:57 PM, Dec 05, 2018

DENVER -- As the end of the year approaches, it's time for holiday music, baked cookies, family and, unfortunately, scammers. 

Shady people are out there, and they want your money. They'll use tactics you have -- and haven't -- heard of before in order to score a quick theft, and they also strike when you're most vulnerable.

Scammers utilize the most vulnerable and generous sides of people, and the easiest way to combat them is knowledge and wariness. 

These are some of the most popular scams seen during the holiday season: 

1.) Porch Pirates 

Not a typical scam, this requires of criminals only inattentiveness on the part of those receiving packages, but it is a major problem across metro areas. 

How people typically carry it out: During the day, when most people are at work, unscrupulous people either follow delivery trucks on their routes or frequent houses which most frequently receive packages. 

Police are actively attempting to dissuade people from stealing packages, but new reports surface frequently. 

2.) Lottery Scams

Whether in person, in email or on the phone, many have been taken by this type of scam, which comes with the gleaming reward of millions. That pile of cash is a simple mirage, however.

How people carry out the scam: Victims will be approached either in person, online or by phone, by a scammer who learned their potential victims have won the lottery, but need your help to claim the ticket. 

These types of scams are hard to track, and scammers often ask for gift cards.

3.) Kidnapping Scams

A very scary thought for any family is having a family member taken, kidnapped or held hostage. There are scammers who are ready and willing to take advantage of that. 

How people carry out the scam: Victims will typically be called on the phone either by the "kidnapper" or by their "family member." This is easy to do, as the victim will be rushed quickly through a process of being explained why the "family member" is in trouble, and how the victim can help. 

Again, these scams are hard to track, as the victims are frequently asked for gift cards.

4.) Utility Company Scams

When a person in a uniform asks to enter your home, you need to let them in, right? Wrong. A frequent holiday season scam is that of a person under the guise of a utility company asking to inspect something. 

How the scam is carried out: A "uniformed" person, will knock on your door, asking to check on your cable, internet, gas, water or electric system, even if you've received no notification. Once inside your home, the criminal has the ability to scout the house for a later burglary, or simply steal things on their own. 

Avoid this scam by being rightfully aware of any unsolicited people knocking on your door. If you haven't noticed a problem, don't allow the person in your home without first contacting your utility company that they claim to be with. 

5.) Phishing Scams

Be it Amazon, Best Buy, PayPal, eBay or more, phishing scams look to fool email users into believing there is unauthorized access to their account, or simply there might be an issue they need to address -- like an order that isn't properly going through. 

How it's carried out: An email will be sent out that might enter your regular inbox that informs you one of your accounts has an issue that needs to be addressed. A link will be provided. Once you click on it, you'll be prompted to enter your account information. The only problem is it will steal your account information. 

This is an untraceable crime, allowing hackers to steal your online information, and ultimately your identity. 

Never follow links from emails if you can help it. 

6.) BONUS: IRS Scam

Denver7 includes this scam, as tax season is right around the corner. Frequently, scammers will take advantage of many taxpayer's hard times, threatening arrest if debts to the IRS aren't settled. 

How this is carried out: A caller will ring your phone, informing you that there are outstanding balances you owe the IRS. They'll ask for immediate payment, typically in the form of a gift card. There's only one problem with this: The IRS will NEVER call you to inform you of a debt.

The IRS only will send a letter to inform you of official issues or audits. In subsequent contacts, you may hear from an IRS representative, however it won't be out of the blue.