The Sweetwater County Sheriff's Department is warning residents about several scams that tend to increase over the holiday season. Spokesman Dick Blust says there are a variety of internet and social-media scams that attempt to get people's money, personal information, or both. They include the following:
Holiday Spam and/or Phishing

There is always a rise in holiday-themed spam and phishing emails at this time of year offering wonderful deals on everything from Rolex watches to pharmaceuticals.  Exercise extreme caution with such communications; crooks who are “phishing” are after information such as passwords and credit card numbers.  Remember, anyone legitimately selling valuable merchandise doesn’t need to send out hundreds of thousands of emails to do business.

Social Media Scams

Cybercriminals learned very quickly that social media networks like Facebook and Twitter are rich hunting grounds featuring endless numbers of potential victims. They use social media just they also use email and websites to scam consumers.  Be wary of “wonderful deals” you encounter on social media just as you would with suspicious emails and websites.

Holiday Gift Scams

Scammers take full advantage of crazes for popular “must have” items like the iPhone 5, Ipad Mini, etc., creating bogus contests and surveys offering free iPads and other too-good-to-be-true deals, while they are phishing away the whole time, trolling for credit card numbers and passwords.

Holiday “SmiShing”    

SmiShing is nothing more than phishing via text messages.  The scammers want your financial information:   don’t give it to them.

Travel Scams

Those who plan to travel during the holidays, whether it’s for a special trip or a visit to distant relatives, look for hotel and flight deals on the Internet.  Cybercrooks are fully aware of that, and often set up bogus travel sites offering incredible deals at rock-bottom prices.  Be very careful before you submit your personal and financial information online and check out the company thoroughly before you book.