NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY, EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) —Northumberland District Attorney Anthony M. Matulewicz, III issued advice to county residents on how to avoid scams throughout the holiday season.

When shopping, the DA’s office says to keep your purse or wallet with you and close at hand at all times. They also say to be mindful of “distraction thefts,” in which one person will strike up a conversation while the other person steals the wallet or purse.

The DA says that, if you receive any unsolicited text messages about a shopping discount or other rewards, do not click any links until you confirm the offer, and avoid answering any surveys. Sometimes, clicking on links can install malware on your device, so confirm the offers with the stores themselves first. Poorly worded or misspelled text messages, short links, long email addresses, and long email addresses with strange characters in them can all be considered warning signs of a scam.

The DA explained that scammers can steal personal information through Wi-Fi networks, so they advised not to connect to any public Wi-Fi network unless it is a reputable Virtual Private Network (VPN). They say to turn your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth off when not at home or work, and to rely on cellular data whenever possible.

The DA also warned that gift cards can often be used for scams, as anyone asking you to pay a fee, fine, or unpaid bill with a gift card is scamming you, and anyone threatening you with arrest while demanding you pay with a gift card is scamming you.

When ordering packages online, the DA advises to make a plan to recieve those packages at home, as porch thefts rates increase during the holiday season.

The DA also says to be wary of holiday job scams, in which you are offered a high paying position for the holidays but required to pay large fees upfront for training.

Charity scams are also common during the holiday season, so the DA advised paying attention to how “charities” ask you to pay when calling over the phone. If they ask for payment via gift card, cash, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency, it is a scam. Visit this website to investigate charities.

The DA instructed to be alert for credit card skimmers, devices placed onto ATMs, gas pumps, and other points of sale that allow people to make copies of credit cards. Make sure to inspect these devices to ensure that they have not been tampered with in any way before using them.

Visit the FTC website and the USA gov website for more information on avoiding scams. If you find a scam, report it by visiting this website.