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Attorney General Stein’s December Column: Holiday Scams

‘Tis the season to not get scammed

Attorney General Josh Stein
December 2021

This December, you may be thinking about your holiday plans or finding the perfect gift for a loved one. As we embrace the joys of this season, make sure you don’t get Scrooged. Take precautions to protect yourself and your money from holiday scams. The “most wonderful time of the year” is also a busy time for scammers, who increase their efforts to steal your money or personal information.

An easy way for scammers to take advantage of you is through online shopping scams. Watch out for fake websites or apps that closely resemble a business or brand you are familiar with. Double-check the URL by looking for a lock icon and by making sure it starts with “https:”. Verify that you are on a trusted and secure Wi-Fi network. While it may be easy to click the “Buy” button from your phone or laptop, inputting your credit card information over public Wi-Fi could increase your chances of falling victim to scammers.

Remember that products sold over social media platforms may not always be legitimate. Read over reviews and do your research on the sellers before you decide to purchase anything. Be sure to always pay by credit card and keep receipts in case there’s an issue and you need to be refunded.

Scammers can also con you during the holidays through mail and packages. If you are expecting a package, shippers and delivery service providers will provide you with package status updates. Scammers might send phishing emails pretending to be those companies. Remember that UPS, FedEx, and other shippers will not ask you for personal information via email. If you get a suspicious text or email, you can always check the status of a package directly on the delivery company’s website.

Packages that are stacked up outside your door can make you a target for porch poachers. Track your packages so you know when they’ll arrive and can ensure they are delivered safely. If you plan to be out of town but expect deliveries, consider having your mail held at the post office until you get back or ask a neighbor to collect them for you.

For more information on common holiday scams and how to avoid them, visit https://ncdoj.gov/protecting-consumers/holiday-scams/. And if you think you or someone you know has been the victim of a scam, file a complaint with my office’s Consumer Protection Division at https://ncdoj.gov/file-a-complaint/ or by phone at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM. The holiday season is a special time of year. I pray yours is safe and happy.