Common Holiday Scams

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Provided by Prince William County Police

Phony Prizes and Sweepstakes

“Congratulations! It’s your lucky day—you’ve won a car/cash/some other incredible prize,” or so the email says. It’s most likely you’re just one of the many people who received this spam email or saw this pop-up ad that’s trying to trick you into handing over personal information or money.


  • Never hand over any financial information or account numbers to individuals or companies you don’t know or trust.
  • Be especially wary of notices that begin with “Dear Sir,” or requests to pay fees or shipping charges.
  • Be suspicious of claims saying you won a contest you didn’t enter or of messaging that pressures you to act quickly.


Fake Charities

The holiday season is meant for giving, but be sure to validate any charity to which you choose to donate. For help, use services like the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator® or CharityWatch.


  • Ask for written information about the charity, so you can fact check.
  • Beware of sound-alike charities—look it up before donating. Note that some scams use a name that sounds similar to a well-known charity. Many often sound so similar, the spelling in the web
    address could be only slightly different from that of the legitimate charity.



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