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Police Warn of Holiday Scams

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — The holiday season is a prime time for crooks and shysters looking to steal your money, the Rio Rancho Police Department says. So police are offering some tips to keep you from losing your spirit of the season.

“During the holiday season, many of us feel compelled to help the less fortunate and those in need,” according to a news release issued by Rio Rancho police spokesman Sgt. Nicholas Onken. “Unfortunately, many unscrupulous individuals are looking for the perfect opportunity to prey on your generosity.”

RRPD is offering the following tips to keep residents from becoming a victim:

♦ If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Don’t fall for this old trick: Somebody calls or notifies you that you’ve won a prize, but you’ll have to pay some fees up front to collect the prize. The best thing to do there is to contact the state Attorney General’s Office to find out if it’s legitimate and, if not, report it.

♦ Use your common sense, especially when guarding your personal information.

Keep in a secure area your Social Security number, birth certificate and any other valuable personal documents. Never give any personal information to anyone on the phone, through the mail, or on the Internet, unless you contacted them first. This includes your Social Security number, your bank account number, your mother’s maiden name, your address or your credit card numbers.

♦ Mail theft is another increasingly common problem. They recommend that when paying bills or sending an important letter, mail it directly from the post office. Protect your incoming mail with a locking mailbox.

♦ It’s a good idea to monitor your credit, and take advantage of your free once-a-year credit check. Make sure no one else is opening accounts in your name.

♦ If you’d like to donate to major nonprofit groups, go to their website and look them over before sending them any money. Never let anyone pressure you into make an immediate donation.

♦ Watch out for online relationships. “Many scammers will work tirelessly to develop a romance online with the intent of scamming money from the victim,” police said. “Again, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

Go to to learn more about fraud from the National Consumers League.