COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine warned consumers of scams to avoid this holiday season.
“Scams don’t take a break during the holidays, and when people are busy or distracted, they may be more likely to fall for a scam,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We just encourage people to be careful. Take a few minutes to think, and if something doesn’t seem right, don’t do it.”
Scams to avoid this holiday season include:
• Seasonal job scams. Job seekers find an ad for a mystery shopping or package shipping position where they can work from home. They complete an online “interview” over chat or email. Once they’re selected for the job, they receive a check. They’re told to deposit the check and immediately wire a portion of the money somewhere else. Ultimately, the check is returned as counterfeit, and the job seeker loses any money he or she has sent.
• Package delivery scams. Consumers receive a message saying a package is waiting for them. The “package” turns out to be a phony notice claiming they’ve won millions of dollars but must send money to redeem the prize. (In reality, the prize does not exist.) In another variation of the scam, consumers receive an email or text message with instructions to click a link for the status of a package delivery. Although the message looks real, it’s a scam designed to trick consumers into clicking on the link and infecting their device with malicious software.
• Advance-fee loan scams. Consumers apply for a loan online, but they’re told they need to pay a few hundred dollars in advance to secure the loan. They send the money but never receive anything in return.
• Online shopping scams. Con artists pose as sellers online, taking money for items they never deliver. For example, in the “puppy scam,” consumers find an ad for a puppy on social media or classified ad websites like Craigslist or Hoobly. They pay the “seller” hundreds or thousands of dollars, supposedly to cover shipping fees, crate costs, insurance payments, or veterinary bills, but they never receive anything in return.
• Charity scams. Con artists pretend to represent real charities, soliciting consumers by phone, online, or outside stores or malls. They make vague, phony claims about supporting a worthwhile cause and collect donations on the spot, but they keep the money for themselves.
Signs of a possible scam include:
• Requests for payment using money-transfer services, prepaid cards, or gift cards.
• Receiving a check and being told to send a portion of the money elsewhere.
• Pressure to act immediately.
• Guarantees that you’ll make money.
• Having to pay to secure a loan, grant, or prize.
• Winning a contest you never entered.
• Requests to send money out of the country.
• No written information or contact information.
• Unexpected, threatening calls.
Attorney General DeWine also encouraged consumers to take steps to avoid identity theft during the holidays. Victims of identity theft may not discover the problem for months (or even years) after their information is stolen. Consumers can help protect themselves by guarding their personal information, regularly checking their bank accounts, and reviewing their credit reports.
Consumers who suspect a scam should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or (800) 282-0515.