MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is urging consumers to take precautionary steps to avoid scams and other potential dangers this holiday season.
Marshall says while this time of year is for celebrating traditions with family and friends there are those who like to take advantage of this special time.
"This is a time for celebrating precious traditions with family and friends, sharing goodwill with our neighbors and honoring a spirit of kindness and love," said Marshall. "That is my heartfelt wish for the people of Alabama. But we must be vigilant and guard against those who would take advantage of this special time by stealing and defrauding others. I hope these words of advice will help to protect consumers and that we all may have a joyous holiday."
Below are some tips and information to remember:
Beware of fake charity scams: The holiday season is a popular time for fake charity scammers. They often come in the form of phishing emails, spoofed telephone numbers, and door to door visits. If you suspect that a solicitor isn't honest, contact your local law enforcement. Also, click this link to see the available data on verifying charities.
Beware of scammers posing a family or friends needing help: As many people travel to be with loved ones, be wary of scammers who contact victims posing as a family member who is away from home and in need of money. They may say they've lost their wallet or experienced some kind of emergency in order to deceive you. As a general rule, never send money to anyone if you cannot verify their identity. Ask the person called or email to verify details that only family would know such as a location of the last family gathering, where they went to high school, college etc.
Beware of holiday gift card scams: Unfortunately, gift cards can also be manipulated by thieves. Scammers sometimes rub off the security codes from gift cards while they are still on store shelves and wait until they think the gift card has been sold and activated. To avoid this scam, make sure the gift card you are buying is intact before you buy it. Compare it to other gift cards of the same variety. Be sure to keep your gift card receipt.
Holiday shopping safety tips: Shoppers should be extra vigilant this time of year for crimes of opportunity. It is always best to keep the following in mind:
- Park in a well-lit area.
- Do not leave your purse, presents, or other purchases in plain view in your vehicle.
- Do not leave your purse unattended in your shopping cart.
- If possible, shop with a friend or family member. There is safety in numbers.
- If meeting someone to purchase something bought online, such as from Craigslist or Facebook, meet in a heavily trafficked and well-lit area. If possible, meet in the parking lot of your local police department or sheriff’s office.
Safeguard your packages: Shopping online or by telephone can be convenient and is more and more popular, but brings the danger of packages being stolen. Certain precautions may help:
- If you won’t be at home, consider having the package sent to your workplace or to a friend or neighbor;
- Some delivery services will hold packages at their local site for pick-up, or companies may ship to a local store or other attended delivery site;
- Give specific instructions for packages to be left in a discreet area less likely to be noticed such as behind something or at a side entrance;
- If you will be home, request that a signature for receipt be required so that it is not left unattended.
Buyers beware: Beware of websites that feature pop-up advertising promising a hard-to-find item or items at a too-good-to-be-true price. Always remember, if an online offer seems too good to be true, then it probably is.