Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford and his Bureau of Consumer Protection encourage Nevadans to protect themselves from scams and be vigilant throughout the holiday season.
“During the holiday season, Grinches are looking to prey on unsuspecting Nevadans,” said Ford. “As Nevadans work their way through holiday wish lists, it’s important to remember that urgency is a common thread for most scams. Consumers are encouraged to educate themselves about these common scams and follow our tips to avoid being scammed.”
Ford and his Bureau of Consumer Protection warn consumers to be on the lookout for:
During the holiday season, many Nevadans give generously, and scammers are eager to capitalize on your generosity. This office offers the following tips to be sure that your charitable dollars are being used for your intended purpose:
w Avoid making a donation without conducting preliminary research. Ask for detailed information about the charity, including the name, address and telephone number. Then conduct some online searches of the charity name in combination with the words “complaint” or “scam” to learn about its reputation. Using online resources offered by the Better Business Bureau can also provide assurance about the trustworthiness of a particular charity;
w Be wary of solicitations from professional fundraisers who make it seem like they represent a charity. Call the charity directly to verify whether the fundraisers are authorized to act on its behalf. Never make checks payable to a fundraiser, and refrain from providing your credit card number to a fundraiser. It is safest to mail your check directly to the charity; and
w Ask for a receipt showing the amount of your contribution. Be wary of promises of guaranteed sweepstakes or prizes in exchange for a contribution. Donations never have to be given in order to be eligible to win a prize or sweepstakes.
During the holidays when online shopping is at its peak, consumers are encouraged to be wary of clone websites and unsolicited emails. Scammers are able to easily clone a website to make it resemble a site you know and trust, and maybe even shop from frequently. They may even send you a coupon to use, that when clicked, takes you to a clone website that looks like the real thing. From here, scammers may be looking to steal your credit card information, and even your log in credentials. The cloned site may simply ask you to log in, then redirect you to a legitimate site while collecting your log in information that can be used to make unauthorized purchases.
w When visiting a website and especially when making purchases off of a website, look for the lock symbol or the “https” in the browser to ensure you’re visiting a secure site.
w Double check the URL address. Cloned sites look similar to the real thing, with a slight modification of letters or numbers.
Many of these scammers pay for promoted ads on social media and search engines, which makes them appear more legitimate. Instead of searching the web for savings, consider using a trusted app that automatically scans and applies coupon codes from verified retailers.
Not every holiday scam happens online: criminals often come to your doorstep. With the influx of packages the holidays bring, some criminals earn a profit by swiping deliveries from front porches. They may even walk or drive through neighborhoods looking for packages left on doorsteps during work hours.
w Whenever possible, make arrangements so your packages won’t be left unattended at your door. If you know your package will arrive during work hours, consider arranging for delivery to a workplace, if possible;
w Some major retailers offer multiple delivery speeds and special delivery and pickup options allowing the consumer to pick up from a central warehouse or locker; and
w Installing a home security camera may aid in law enforcement’s ability to identify and catch package thieves.
Additionally, consumers may receive text messages, phone calls or emails purportedly from the Post Office, FedEx, UPS and other carriers that notify recipients of a delayed shipment. The message may include a link to track the package. However, clicking the link could download a virus onto your device. If you’re expecting a package and would like to track its whereabouts, visit the merchant site directly.
Although not limited to the holidays, scam artists increase their efforts to take advantage of emotional connections to commit fraud. Grandparents and parents may get a call allegedly from a grandchild or relative in trouble. This child may have supposedly been arrested or have some other urgent need to have money wired to them.
w Hang up the phone and call your relative directly using a known phone number;
w Don’t be pressured to respond to a “crisis” right away. A hallmark of financial scams is the pressure to send money and act quickly;
w Ask the caller a question only your relative would know, such as a recent gift you’ve given them or the details about the last time you saw them;
w Encourage communication among your family. Share your travel plans, along with contact information if an emergency arises; and
w Be equally cautious about emails explaining similar scenarios, like a relative whose wallet has been stolen and needs money right away.