Attorney General Warning – Avoid Holiday Shopping Scams This Year

Friday, Dec. 1, 2023

This time of year, online shopping surges as folks scramble to buy holiday gifts and find the best deals online. Unfortunately, scammers know this all too well and will be trying to take advantage of unaware shoppers. People often report credit card fraud and phishing and shipping scams during the holiday season. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that these scams cost consumers more than $500 million in 2022! When doing your holiday shopping online this year, be sure to follow these steps to avoid letting criminals rob you of your hard-earned money and holiday spirit:

  • Always verify who you’re buying from. Make sure that a website you plan to shop with has https:// and a lock icon in the URL to ensure you are on a secure and legitimate site. If you’re not sure if an online vendor is legitimate, call the Better Business Bureau or our office’s Consumer Protection Section at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM to see if the company has any complaints against it. You should also do an online search for negative reviews.
  • Avoid offers that seem too good to be true. If you find a low-priced product online, especially on a site you aren’t familiar with, cross-check the price with other more well-established vendors. If the price you found is significantly lower, it’s likely a scam.
  • Look for red flags on websites. Spelling errors, pop-up ads, unusual payment methods, or requests for personal information are good indicators that an online vendor is unsafe to shop from. If you’re redirected to another website or domain, make sure to check the URL to ensure it’s secure.
  • Stay on top of your shipping information. Scammers know that people will be tracking their online deliveries and will try to trick them with fake text messages or emails about a package. When you order online, make sure you have tracking numbers directly from the vendor or mail carrier so you can track your package directly with them. Avoid clicking any links you randomly receive via text message or email about your package. These can be phishing links designed to steal your personal information.
  • Pay with a credit card whenever possible. Scammers will often ask you to use other payment types like wire transfers, gift cards, or cryptocurrency because it is more difficult to dispute a transaction and get your money back.
  • Report suspicious activity to authorities. Never feel hesitant to contact law enforcement if you suspect you’ve been scammed. Reporting these scams helps law enforcement crack down on these crimes and can help prevent others from falling victim.

If you think that you or somebody you know has been scammed, contact our office’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or file a complaint online at https://ncdoj.gov/file-a-complaint/.

 

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