DENVER – Attorney General Suthers today issued a list of top ten tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of fraud this holiday season.
“Nothing can dampen the holiday season faster than becoming a victim of consumer fraud,” said Suthers. “The holidays are a busy time of the year for thieves. By keeping a few tips in mind, you can prevent them from taking advantage of you and your wallet.”
Each year, the Attorney General’s Office receives more complaints on fraudulent activity during the holiday season than any other time of year. To avoid becoming a victim, the Attorney General’s Office suggests following the below tips.
Top Ten Tips to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Fraud this Holiday Season
- When buying online, always know who you’re dealing with.
Anyone can set up shop online. Confirm a store’s URL by calling. Never input financial data into a pop-up message, or in response to an unsolicited email, as a legitimate business will never ask for such information this way.
- Keep a paper trail.
Print and save records of all your transactions, including receipts and product descriptions.
- Update your security software.
Updated software includes anti-phishing features to protect against fake sites that attempt to trick consumers into purchasing or divulging personal data. Never download so-called anti-spyware products pushed through pop-up messages or unsolicited email.
- Shop on a site that encrypts data.
Look for the URL to begin with “https” instead of “http”. On the checkout page, make sure there is a padlock icon in the lower right-hand border of the browser window.
- Purchase gift cards from a customer service agent not from display racks.
Gift cards purchased from a display rack are an easy target for crooks, who can write down the card numbers and wait a few days until the card is actually purchased and activated. They are then able to go online and start shopping with your card.
- Check a company’s history with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Consumers can easily inquire with the BBB to check a company’s reputation and history of complaints. To file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office, please call the office’s Colorado Consumer Line at 1-800-444-2222. Consumers can also email the office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Give wisely and beware of charity fraud.
During the holiday season, charity fraud is most popular. Be careful of charities that use similar sounding names as legitimate charities. Consumers should check the registration status, financial statements, and campaign reports of charities and paid solicitors BEFORE making any charitable donation. That information is available on the Secretary of State’s website at: http://www.sos.state.co.us/ccsa/CcsaInquiryMain.do.
- Carefully review account statements and credit card activity.
Detecting fraud early increases your chances of recuperating your money from unauthorized purchases.
- Protect your credit card numbers.
To prevent fraudulent charges, make sure sales clerks make only one impression of your credit card and never give your credit card number to someone unsolicited.
- Beware of emails that offer loans or credit.
Scam artists can take advantage of cash-strapped consumers over the holidays by offering personal loans for an upfront fee.
Source: Colorado Office of the Attorney General, Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission