As the holiday season approaches, many people are focused on shopping and saving, but scam artists view this as an opportunity to take advantage of these shoppers.
The Attorney General is warning Oklahomans to be careful to avoid scams, which in the past year have cost Oklahomans more than $50 million. A study by the AARP found 78% of Oklahomans have been targeted by some sort of money-seeking scam in the past.
“Scam artists view the holiday season as an opportune time to take advantage of consumers, which is why it is more important than ever to take precautions to protect yourself and your money,” Attorney General John O’Connor said in a press release. “Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it is.”
The Attorney General warned Oklahomans need to learn to recognize scams. These scams can come by email, social media or even old-fashioned snail mail.
Many scams, both traditional or electronic, have some common elements.
Scammers will try to pressure you, make demands, or sell something to you quickly. If you get a text from a random number that directs their message to you or tries to butter you up for an enticing prize and you haven’t subscribed to any of their platforms, it is most likely a scammer.
These types of scams promise an attribute like good luck, or money for an entire year, things that seem so out of proportion but are exactly what you want to hear. Most will try to get as much information out of you as possible. They can appear friendly and will do everything to create a connection with you. The more you let them talk to you, the more tempting their pitch will get. There are some, though, that will begin to blackmail you or threaten you to indulge in whatever they’re offering. Be sure to report these messages right away.
Shopping safely online is a real struggle any time of the year. When buying online, a tell tale sign of legitimacy for a website is how it begins. If your website doesn’t start with “https” it is more than likely unsafe.
One trick used by Impersonators is domain spoofing which is a fake website that is almost identical to the one you are searching for but these will not have a secured url.
By clicking on or putting your information into these websites you can easily become a victim of scam.
Using your credit card can provide a small safety net. If you purchase something online and notice you haven’t received it or there are purchases being made not by you, your credit card company can help you by providing a refund or stopping the unauthorized charges.
You also need to be cautious this time of year when making donations to charities. Some scammers may pose as nonprofits. Make sure you do your research and don’t allow the solicitor to pressure you; tell them that you need to do some research and ask for a callback number. If they continue to pressure you or refuse to give you a callback number, they are most likely a scammer.
You can find more information about legitimate charities at websites like Charity Navigator, GuideStar and CharityWatch.
If you feel like you’ve been contacted by a scammer or fell victim to one, the Attorney General says you should notify the Federal Trade Commission online or at 877-382-4357 and report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at https://www.oag.ok.gov/consumer-protection-unit, or call 1-833-681-1895.