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BEWARE: Scammers use bogus postcards to promise $100 gift cards

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Scammers are using your mailbox to steal your personal information and doing so by using two things so many people value, money and shopping. Unlike other scams, this one is gaining momentum because con artists are asking you to call them. When you call, the scammers request you first pay a small amount. It's not until later when you discover your finances have been compromised.

Here's how it works:

  • You receive a postcard in the mail claiming you won a $100 gift card.
  • You are told to call a number, oftentimes toll free --in order to pay a small one-time fee.
  • The amount you may be asked to fork over is usually minimum, around $3.95 or so, in order to receive the unclaimed reward.
  • What you don't know is the person on the other end will then use whatever personal information you provided them, like your social security number, address, credit or debit information for their own benefit.

Tom Gallagher, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Virginia Inc., said there are several things you can do to protect yourself:

  • Never give personal information out.
  • Always research offers. Visit bbb.org or for those living in Central Virginia you can call 804-648-0016.
  • Be aware of deals that sound too good to be true.
  • And avoid any unsolicited company asking you to call them back.

"If it's free, it's free," Gallagher said. "It doesn't cost anything don't give them any money. As a matter of fact don't call them. If it's too good to be true, it's too good to be true. And just live like that and we are going to be better off."

In some cases the scammers deliver notifications through email or text messages.