Indiana (WEHT) In an official press release on Tuesday, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita offered tips to help holiday shoppers avoid scams.
“Christmas should be about celebrating faith and family and friends,” Attorney General Rokita said. “Amid each year’s festivities, though, it seems we must always contend with shameless con artists determined to defraud generous Hoosiers and separate them from their hard-earned money.”
Scammers are known to usually target rushed, unsuspecting victims. Attorney General Rokita has the following tips to avoid falling victim to scams:
- When shopping online, stick to secure websites that have “http” in their web address–or a lock icon.
- Pay by credit card when shopping online. Review your monthly statements for charges you don’t recognize. If necessary, dispute the charges with your credit card company–it’s much harder to dispute charges when using a debit card or obtaining cash back.
- When buying gift cards, be sure to note the expiration date as well as all terms that apply to the card. Keep receipts for gift cards in case they don’t properly activate to the amount you paid.
- If anyone calls or emails you and asks you pay using a gift card, they are most definitely a scammer. Do not cooperate with them.
- When shopping at physical locations, hide your purchases in the trunk of your car or under the seat so they are not visible through the car windows.
- Keep a close eye on your purse or wallet as you walk through shopping areas.
- Keep the outside of your home well-lit to discourage “porch pirates”. Follow a plan to expect and receive home deliveries, and if possible, have a trusted neighbor pick up your packages when you’re gone. Purchasable home security items such as lock boxes and cameras should also be considered.
- If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Take the time to look into deals and ask questions. When purchasing, read the fine print so you get what you want and on your own terms.
- If you get emails advertising holiday deals, read them closely to see if they come from the companies they claim to represent. Use a search engine to look at the company’s website rather than clicking on a link contained in an email.
- To protect your personal information, never make purchases while connected to public Wi-Fi.
- When considering purchases, slow down and think it over. Scammers want their victims to make hasty decisions and will pressure them into quick commitments.
- Research a charity before donating–and follow the same rules you would use while shopping online. There are websites that track, report on and rate charities: Give.org, Guidestar.org, CharityWatch.org, and CharityNavigator.org.
“This time of year,” Attorney General Rokita said, “individuals most absorbed in the season’s traditions could become easy prey to fraudsters. That includes shoppers hurrying to finish buying all the gifts on their lists. I encourage everyone to exercise vigilance to protect themselves.”
If you feel you’ve become the victim of a scam, file a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division here. You can also call the Indiana Attorney General’s office at 1-800-382-5516.