These tips could help you avoid falling victim to fraud or a scam

Tips on how to avoid holiday charity scams while you're in the giving spirit

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — The holidays are a time of giving. Unfortunately, it’s also the time when crooks and scam artists come out in droves.

It can come in all different forms, whether it be on the web, over the phone or even with snail mail.

The good news: There are some quick tips that something may not be right.

Signs include huge discounts, spelling or grammar errors, and no privacy policy.

And don't make a purchase or donation if you're told to send it by wire transfer, gift card or prepaid card.

Andy Fisher, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau for the Shreveport area, points out one important clue to watch for when online.

“Be sure that you’ve got a secure site. Be sure there’s got that https, and the 's' means secure, before you purchase something online.”

Many of us may think we’d never be conned or fall victim to fraud.

As an insurance adjuster and notary public, it takes a lot to trick someone like Jennifer Stovall.

In her case, the scam artist pretended to be their normal coffee vendor.

Stovall says the fake coffee vendor told her his family was stuck there and needed some cash.

A short time later, Stovall recalled, the same man picked up the cash from her office, this time pretending to be the vendor’s uncle.

“I had my money taken. It was only $58. But, you know, it was just the principle of the fact that I got scammed from him, you know."

“I never got restitution,” she explained. "He did go to jail and serve some time. So I felt like justice was served in that because he was caught immediately after ya’ll ran your story.”

Stovall said she hopes her story can help prevent someone else from becoming a victim of a scam or fraud.

One final suggestion from consumer experts: Buy gift cards for gifts, not for payments.

Anyone who contacts you and demands that you pay them with a gift card, for any reason, is always a scammer.

Report gift card scams directly to the card’s issuer.

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