BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says the holiday season is a prime time for scam artists looking to take advantage of consumers. Caldwell says his office receives an increased number of consumer complaints during the holidays, and consumers need to be educated about what to look out for when going shopping in the stores and online this year.
The Louisiana Attorney General's Office advises consumers to be cautious of the following holiday scams:
Fake shopping websites and online scams
There are a growing number of websites designed to trick consumers into handing over their credit card or bank account information. Many of the latest toys and gadgets are topping shopping lists this holiday season. Be extremely cautious of scam artists sending bogus Internet offers for free devices, such as iPads or iPods. Consumers may be asked to buy other products and provide their credit card information to get the free gadget. Scam artists will then use a consumer's information to make fraudulent purchases on the consumer's account.
Fake gift cards
Some social media sites have been used to promote fake gift card offers with the goal of stealing consumers' personal information. The personal information is then sold to marketers or used for identity theft. Scams may claim to offer a $1,000 gift card to a major retail store for the first 20 people who sign up for a particular "fan page." To get the gift card, consumers are usually required to provide their personal information and take a series of quizzes for the fake offer.
Scammers will tug at your heart during the holidays to solicit fraudulent donations. Common schemes include phone calls and email spam notifications asking consumers to donate to veterans' charities, children's causes and natural disaster relief funds. Before making a donation, be familiar with that particular organization and how it distributes funds.
The Louisiana Attorney General's Office urges consumers to keep these safeguards in mind this holiday season:
If a popular toy or gadget is sold out, but you find it for sale on a site like Craigslist, try arranging the transaction in person and pay close attention to user ratings and reviews of the sellers.
If prices on a site you've never heard of seem too good to be true, do a little homework before entering any credit card information.
It is easy to misplace belongings during shopping trips. Remember losing your credit and debit cards can lead to identity theft. Make sure your wallet is securely tucked away during shopping trips.
Make sure that all online purchases are made on a secure website. These will typically begin with https://.