CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - With the holiday season here, watchdogs want you to be on the lookout for scammers trying to take advantage of your generosity.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein says they see shopping scams, mail scams and charity scams popping up this time of year.
“Folks need to be really careful about how they’re doing business,” said Stein.
Now more than ever in this pandemic, people will be shopping online for the holidays. If you’re one of those people, Stein says to make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate website.
“There are those where it’s a fake retailer or a fake charity,” he says. “They use some wonderful name about veterans or law enforcement that they know will generate your sympathy.”
Look for security credentials on a website and research retailers you don’t know.
“Also make sure you always pay with a credit card. That way if there’s a problem, you can dispute the transaction.”
There will also be a lot of packages going around, and you’ll probably be getting lots of emails with notifications.
“Well the scammers know that so they’ll pretend to be FedEx or UPS and they need you to fill out some information and it’s all to steal your personal information,” said Stein.
Then there are packages left on your front door, which are ripe pickings for criminals. CMPD Officer Johnathan Frisk deals with “porch pirates” every year.
“It’s a crime of opportunity for thieves to see those packages especially if they’re scouting out a particular area,” said Frisk.
Have a neighbor looking out for those packages when you’re not home.
“Even though I can’t recommend any particular kind of camera, having that camera, having a camera on your front door, where you’re able to see it – maybe it alerts you to your phone,” he added.
If you do go to the mall and have packages in the car, make sure they’re hidden in the trunk and not visible to thieves.
As a final word of advice, Stein says, “Just be very skeptical about who you’re dealing with because you don’t know who’s on the other side of that website or email.”
According to the FBI, thousands of people become victims of holiday scams every year.
The FBI’s 2019 Internet Crime Report shows North Carolina ranked 15th in the nation for total losses by victim with a total of over $48 million. South Carolina ranked 32nd with over $20 million in losses.