Watch Out for Christmas Bonus Scams

NBC 7 Responds looked at a scam warning that rears its head during the holidays

NBC Universal, Inc.

The holidays are a season of giving, but a new scam will only take. Everyone could use a little extra money this time of year. That's what one scam promises to people who participate.

"Recently we've seen a new Facebook page that was built this month and it's starting to gain traction," said Eva Velasquez, president of the Identity Theft Resource Center. "We're concerned people are going to give away their personal identifying information and even their cold hard cash."

Velasquez says they first warned people about the scam five years ago, but now it's back. The offer says there are Christmas bonuses being given out by a lottery or government program.

"It sounds wonderful and it sounds very much in the holiday spirit," Velasquez said. "These are scams. They're not real. There are no Christmas bonuses coming from the government."

Often these invitations look like they are coming from a friend, but there is usually a malicious actor on the other side of the keyboard. Velasquez says as the scam grows it also seems more legitimate.

"The more likes and followers you see on a page, the more credibility it has," Velasquez said. "You say, 'Oh this must be real! Look at all these people taking advantage of it!'"

Velasquez says there's an easy way to tell if one of these offers is a scam. See what they want from you to get your supposed cash.

"It might say there's a fee associated with taking advantage of this program and to get your free money you have to pay taxes on it," Velasquez said. "We've had some legitimate government programs where they put cash into our economy. So, it can be hard to tell when it's real and when it's not."

Velasquez says if you get a random message from a friend saying you've won something this holiday season, reach out to them another way. That's because their page may have been cloned or hacked. You might also want to report these scam pages to Facebook.

At the very least, Velasquez says you need to be careful about what information you give out so you don't fall for any scams.

"They pick up scams around Christmastime or around the Holidays," Velasquez said. "We're in a much more generous mood or might be actually feeling some financial strains."

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