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Friday, Jan 24 2014 08:00 PM

ACTION LINE: Don't fall for this pay-to-receive gift basket scam

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    Blair Looney, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Central California.

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BY BLAIR LOONEY Contributing columnist

Dear Action Line: Last week I received a phone call from a caller stating to be from "Express Couriers." The caller asked if I was going to be home because there would be a package delivery for me that required a signature.

The caller then said the delivery would arrive in an hour, and then about an hour later, a uniformed delivery man was at my doorstep with a beautiful basket of flowers and wine.

I was very interested in who had sent me the gift, so I asked the delivery person for a name. He said no name was given him, but that a card was going to be sent separately. He then explained that since the gift contained alcohol, there would be a $3.50 delivery/verification charge.

I questioned why there would be a charge, and he explained that this provided proof to the delivery company that the package was delivered to an adult of legal age. The delivery person was very persistent that the only way to deliver the package was to process the payment by credit or debit card by swiping a card on their device and entering a pin number.

I was close to pulling the credit card out of my pocket, but then I had a bad gut feeling and grew skeptical, so I refused to accept the gift.

 

Dear reader:  It's always a great feeling to receive a surprise gift from a loved one or friend. However, be wary of accepting any "surprise gift or package" that is neither expected nor ordered, especially when a price is attached as a condition of receiving the gift.

In addition, be advised that a delivery person who is bringing a gift from a third party would never need access to your credit card, nor you as the receiver would be required to pay a fee to receive a gift. If you give your personal information, you may be risking your identity.

If a scammer has your credit card and knows where you live, he or she has plenty of information to create a new identity in your name. This can potentially ruin your credit and create credit problems for you for a very long time.

It is not out of the ordinary to ask for identification when alcohol is delivered, but if it is truly a gift, there will be no fees expected upon delivery. Don't be tempted by the beautiful basket that they are trying to tempt you with.

Be diligent with your personal information. If you do not know people requesting your information, DO NOT GIVE IT TO THEM.

You can always call BBB to get great tips on what to do next.

-- Blair Looney is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 1601 H St., Suite 101, Bakersfield, CA 93301 or info@cencal.bbb.org.

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