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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The holidays bring out the best and worst in people. So NBC Charlotte has a few helpful hints to protect you and your family from holiday scam artists.

It's the season for giving-- and for scam artists, the season for taking. Their most frequent target: the elderly.

U.S. Postal Inspector Lori Groen says, Scammers are often using the holidays as a backdrop to solicit people... They think people are a little more trusting during that time and a little more giving.

So, as you visit parents and grandparents this season, there are a few things to be on the lookout for.

First, look for solicitations of sweepstakes, things that say they have won fabulous prizes, Groen explains, Also, look for foreign lotteries, all foreign lotteries through the mail are illegal.

Another warning from postal inspectors: beware of offerings of so-called valuable items like watches, gloves and jewelry.

This was something that was described as some fabulous jewelry that someone would have one in a sweepstakes. In reality, it's nothing but costume jewelry, stated Groen.

Also keep in mind that many scam artists will be dialing for dollars during the holidays. Never give out your personal information over the phone and don't donate money unless you know exactly who you're dealing with.

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