It’s a season for giving, but apparently some scam artists are instead using the opportunity for taking. The Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s office is warning residents to watch out for holiday scams, particularly those involving false charities and phishing.
Some groups use names that sound similar to legitimate charities and pressure consumers for donations. They might also offer particularly touching stories in an attempt to garner sympathy and contributions. The AG’s office said many consumers who would typically notice the sketchy “charities” may be too busy or distracted by the holidays to pick up on the normal cues.
Phishing involves using deceptive emails or text messages to obtain usernames, passwords and financial information from a victim. Consumers might receive an email or text message from someone posing as a representative from a bank or retail establishment, saying the customer’s account has been restricted due to unusual activity or too many unsuccessful online login attempts. The scammer then requests bank account numbers, passwords and/or a social security number to reactivate the account.
Some consumers have received fraudulent text messages, emails or phone calls stating they won a gift card from reputable companies such as Target or Best Buy. Scammers might also say the consumer entered a contest at a store. Both of these tactics are used to bait consumers into providing personal information.
In all cases, consumers should avoid handing over sensitive personal information, and should never feel obligated to donate to a charity under pressure. Ask charity representatives who approach you for more information, and do your own research, the attorney general’s office advises. Check the charity’s website, along with resources such as the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance or the National Association of State Charity Officials.
If a charity is legitimate, it will accept your donation at any time and will not need to pressure for donations. Never give cash, and if using a check, make it out directly to the charity instead of an individual person. Do not use money transfer companies to send money to a person you haven’t met.
“My office is committed to helping consumers protect themselves from falling victim to fraud. When it comes to charity scams, especially around the holidays, it is best that people do lots of research and only give money to charities and businesses they can really trust,” said AG Cuccinelli in a statement. “It is our hope that all Virginians can enjoy a joyful and safe holiday season without being taken advantage of by scammers.”
You can file complaints regarding scams on the consumer protection section of the attorney general’s website.
Nolan Forness owns the store, along with his wife, daughter and son. His wife’s father started the business in 1953 and thus far the family has had one store in Alexandria.
Forness grew up in Clarendon and currently lives in Crystal City. He said the family had been looking to expand into Clarendon for a long time, and jumped at the opportunity when they saw the space open up.
“I knew the old neighborhood and the new neighborhood is a whole lot busier,” Forness said. “We knew it was a hot location. There were no jewelry businesses around and we thought we’d fill that void.”
This location’s specialty will be silver pieces by several unique designers. Forness touts his membership in the Independent Jewelers Organization, and promises that customers will find items that aren’t available elsewhere. The store will also offer Pandora jewelry, jewelry repair, watch repair and custom jewelry design.
Forness said his family has been ready to open the new location for a few months, but they were just waiting for the custom-made jewelry cases to arrive. The store opened on Sunday, and the sign went up yesterday (Tuesday).
The family is considering this a “soft opening” period and plans to have a grand opening sometime after the holidays.
Volunteers are needed for a number of opportunities around Arlington, from helping with Spanish immersion classes to participating in a dance performance. More information about these opportunities and others can be found online.
- Edu-Futuro seeks teaching assistants for spring semester (January-May) Spanish immersion classes. The classes take place on Saturdays, and immerse children in Kindergarten through eighth grade in the Spanish language through games, songs, and art projects. Volunteers will assist teachers with projects, maintain a safe classroom environment and communicate with students and parents. Volunteers should have experience with children and must be fluent or advanced in speaking and writing Spanish. Call 703-228-2560 for more information or to sign up.
- Arlington Public Library needs assistance at a couple of its branches. Circulation support is needed at the Columbia Pike Branch, and includes duties such as checking in materials, sorting materials by call number, shelving items and preparing items to be shipped to another branch. Volunteers must be able to use a computer, should be detailed oriented and must be able to bend, stretch and stand for long periods of time. The Cherrydale branch needs someone who can take care of materials that must be sent back to other branches. Call Barbara Dean at 703-228-7688 to inquire about either opportunity.
- Jane Franklin Dance is looking for teenagers interested in being part of a children’s production. Interested performers will learn two dances for the production, which takes place on January 27, February 2 and April 13. Anyone age 12 or older may volunteer and will be asked to attend a few rehearsals. Participation in all three performances is not required, but is preferred. Contact Jane Franklin at 703-933-1111.
The closures will be in effect on December 24, 25, 31 and January 1, for Arlington County offices, libraries and human services offices. Courts are also closed those days; Arlington Circuit Court will be open from 1:00-4:00 p.m. on December 26, and Arlington General District Court and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts will be open from 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. on December 26.
The ART Information Center and all Commuter Stores will be closed on the previously mentioned four days. On December 24 and 31, ART 41, 42, 51, 77 and 87 will run on a Saturday schedule. On December 25 and January 1, ART 41 and 51 will run on a Sunday schedule. The STAR Call Center will be closed all four days and all standing order rides will be cancelled.
Barcroft Sports and Fitness Center will be open from 6:00 a.m.-noon on December 24 and December 31; all other community centers will be closed. On December 25 and January 1, all community centers, including Barcroft, will be closed.
Arlington Public Schools will be closed from December 24-January 2.
Trash and recycling schedules are as follows:
Dec 24 & 31
- Trash & recycling: normal operations
- Special collection: brush, metal, electronics – normal operations
- No cart repair or mulch delivery service
- Leaf bag collection – normal operations
Dec 25 & Jan 1
- Trash & recycling: regular services not provided. Services available for Tuesday customers on Wed 12/26 and Jan 2
- Special collection: scheduled services not provided
- Leaf bag, brush, metal, electronics, cart repair services available for Tuesday customers on Wed Dec 26 and Jan 2
- Call Center: closed
Dec 26 – 28
- Trash & recycling: normal operations – all services completed by COB 12/29
- Special collection: normal operations – all services completed by COB 12/19
- Call center: normal operations
- Trash & recycling: normal operations – all services completed by COB 1/5
- Special collection: normal operations – all services competed by COB 1/5
- Call center: normal operations
Metrorail will run on a regular weekday schedule on December 24. It will be open from 7:00 a.m.-midnight on December 25 and January 1, and will run on a Sunday schedule. MetroAccess subscription trips are cancelled for those two days. On December 31, Metrorail will run on a normal weekdays schedule, but will remain open until 2:00 a.m. to accommodate those celebrating New Year’s Eve.
The Capitals’ season may be in shambles due to the ongoing NHL lockout, but all is not lost for fans wishing to take in some hockey. The Yorktown High School hockey team is playing a home game at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex (627 N. Glebe Road) in Ballston on Friday.
The Yorktown Ice Hockey Club has been in existence since 2003. The team has not been granted sports team status at the school, but is instead considered an “interest club.” It’s part of the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League, which is the premier high school level league in Northern Virginia, and was bumped up from junior varsity to varsity this year.
One of the coaches boasted to ARLnow.com about having the league’s leading goal scorer on his team. Cameron Smith has scored 17 goals in three games, including a record-setting 11 in one game. So far this year, the team is 2-2.
Friday’s game against Broad Run High School begins at 6:40 p.m. at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in the Ballston Mall. It’s free to attend.
After this Friday, there will be two more Yorktown home games at Kettler. The team will play Osbourne Park at 6:40 p.m. on Friday, January 4, and Madison on Friday, February 8.
Police say last Thursday (December 13), a school administrator noticed two boys outside engaging in what appeared to be suspicious behavior. The administrator thought the boys might be smoking cigarettes. She then checked the boys’ schedules and noticed they were both late to class.
According to police, the administrator found that the boys had returned to the building shortly after the incident, and she pulled one boy out of class to confront him about his behavior outside. A search was performed on the boy’s backpack, in anticipation of finding cigarettes, and a butterfly knife was discovered. Upon searching the second boy’s locker, a similar butterfly knife was also found.
Both boys were charged with Possession of a Weapon in School and released to the custody of their parents. Both have also been suspended.
Nobody at the school was injured. Arlington Public Schools will not comment on the incident to protect the students’ privacy.
ACFD Food Drive Ends Friday — The Arlington County Fire Department’s food drive, which began on December 1, will end this Friday, December 21. So far, ACFD has collected more than 1,200 pounds of food for the Arlington Food Assistance Center. Non-perishable food can be donated at all Arlington and Falls Church fire departments, and at the county government building at 2100 Clarendon Blvd.
County Hopes Residents Remove Snow to Avoid Fines — Arlington officials are reminding residents that it could be another year that snow piles up and needs to be removed from sidewalks. The county hopes residents follow the snow removal ordinance that was put in place in 2010. Failure to remove snow is a civil infraction that holds fines of $50-100, and moving snow from private property into public areas (like streets) is a Class 4 misdemeanor. So far, no tickets have been issued under the ordinance. [Sun Gazette]
Sandy Hook School Fundraiser — Whitlow’s (2854 Wilson Blvd) is hosting a fundraiser tonight (December 19) to raise money for families affected by Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. The effort was spearheaded by alumni from Virginia Tech who were students during that school’s deadly shooting in 2007. All proceeds from the event will go to the Sandy Hook School Support fund. There will also be a table set up for patrons to make cards to be sent to the community in Connecticut. [Hokies for Sandy Hook]