RALEIGH, NC — Donation season is upon us, which means more shopping, more donations, and, sadly, more opportunities for scam artists to take advantage of people’s generosity.
Scams come in all forms, with some involving online charities and others posing as online retailers.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports that online shopping scams are the riskiest in its latest Scam Tracker 2022 Risk Report, with 75% of victims reporting loss of money.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said the holiday season is one of the biggest times for theft and scams as people spend more of their discretionary income at the end of the holiday season. year to buy gifts for loved ones.
“Whether you’re buying a product or making a charitable donation to an organization, you want that money to go where you intended it,” Stein said. “Criminals know you’re going to spend money, so they’ll misrepresent who they are, either as a retailer or as a charity.”
His #1 tip is to know who you’re dealing with and make sure the company is legit.
“It’s so easy for a criminal to create a fake retail website,” Stein said. “All they have to do is upload pictures of a great product to the internet, put a price on it, then accept payment and they’ll never deliver the product to you.”
You can check out company newsletters on the BBB website or do a simple search online to see what others are saying about the company.
If you are the victim of a scam, Stein wants you to file a complaint with the North Carolina Department of Justice website. This way, the authorities will have a better idea of who to look for.
He also recommends the following steps to protect yourself against fraud:
- Monitor your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com. This way you can tell if someone is trying to take out credit on your behalf.
- Institute a security freeze to prevent someone from using your driver’s license or social security number to use your credit or take out a loan in your name.
Finally, watch out for fake websites that seem too good to be true. Stein says one way to tell if they are legit is to check the website URL.
“[Check] this address at the top of the webpage,” Stein said. “Is there an S at the end of HTTP? It should say HTTPS, and there should be a lock icon. And it will tell you that it is secure.