U.S. non-profit ScamAwareness.org is warning consumers about scams that typically increase during the holiday season.
Approximately 60% of holiday shoppers plan to do some or all of their shopping online this year.* These shoppers are prime targets for fraudsters offering merchandise, gift cards and even pets at a steep discount. Some criminals actually create fake websites that tout bargain buys.
Before clicking, consumers should carefully read the website address and look for missing or extra letters of a retailer’s name and words like “deals,” “sales” or “discounts” as part of the URL. Shoppers should also avoid offers that require payment by wire transfer or prepaid debit cards.
Shoppers aren’t the only targets on the fraudsters holiday list! Scam artists also take advantage of consumers’ goodwill during the holidays. As legitimate charities increase their solicitations for donations during the season, many scammers devise fake charities to try to steal money via phone, email and social media.
Before donating, consumers should verify that the charity and its web address are legitimate at Charity Navigator or through a state agency that regulates charities. Donations should be sent via check or credit card instead of a wire transfer or cash.
Consumers who think they’ve been scammed should contact their local police immediately.
*National Retail Federation