With the arrival of the holidays and seasonal shopping in full gear, some not-so-jolly folks may be out looking for opportunities to take advantage of consumers.
Local law enforcement officials are encouraging residents to be vigilant for scams that are designed to steal their money and personal information.
Recently, Hardin County Sheriff John Ward said his office has been receiving calls regarding a scam asking residents to donate to the sheriff’s office to help children for Christmas, wanting people to donate immediately.
“It’s a scam,” he said. “There are a lot of valid needs this time of year for the holiday season and a lot of great charitable organizations. People need to make sure that they are contributing to who they think they are contributing. … We don’t want people giving of their money to scammers.”
According to the Elizabethtown Police Department, some of the common holiday scams are:
Holiday charity scams: Charity scam solicitations may come through cold calls, email campaigns, crowdfunding platforms, or fake social media accounts and websites. They are designed to pressure victims to give money and feel like they’re making a difference. They may claim to represent law enforcement, homeless shelters, food pantries, or gift gathering organizations for the needy.
Social media shopping scams: Consumers should beware of posts on social media sites that appear to offer vouchers or gift cards. Some may appear as holiday promotions or contests. Others may appear to be from known friends who have shared the link. Often, these scams lead consumers to participate in an online survey that is designed to steal personal information.
“If you click an ad through a social media platform, do your due diligence to check the legitimacy of the website before providing credit card or personal information,” said John Thomas, public information officer for EPD.
Online shopping scams: Scammers often offer too-good-to-be-true deals via phishing emails or advertisements. Such schemes may offer brand-name merchandise at extremely low prices or offer gift cards as an incentive. Other sites may offer products at a great price, but the products being sold are not the same as the products advertised. Thomas encouraged residents to shop on well-known websites. He said scammers will often make fake websites just for the holiday season.
Work from home scams: Thanks to COVID, Thomas said they’ve been seeing these for the last two years. But expect to see more during the holidays. These opportunities rely on convenience as a selling point but may have fraudulent intentions.
“You should be suspicious of job offers that don’t have formal interviews, background checks, and legitimate businesses you can find and contact,” Thomas said in the email. “Consumers should carefully research the job posting and individuals or company offering employment.”
Delivery scams: As holiday packages fly all over the country, Thomas said scammers send out phishing emails disguised as UPS, FedEx, or U.S. Postal Service notifications of incoming or missed deliveries. Links lead to phony sign-in pages asking for personal information, or to sites infested with malware.
Holiday travel scams: Beware of third party booking and vacation rental sites.
In the most common version of the scam, travelers pay with a credit card and, shortly after making the payment, receive a call from the company asking to verify name, address, banking information or other personal details — something a legitimate company would never do.
Aside from scams, law enforcement also tends to see an increase in thefts of purses, wallets, and other valuables during the holiday season. Thomas said thieves will often use distraction techniques to get the attention of shoppers away from their shopping carts. The best prevention for this type of crime is remove the opportunity altogether. Don’t leave purses, wallets, or cell phones lying in shopping carts.
On the same note, he said thieves will be looking for valuables left inside unlocked cars to an even higher degree than usual during the holiday shopping season.
Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1417 or email@example.com.