Scams don’t take a break during the holidays, and when people are busy or distracted they may be more likely to fall victim, says Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
“We just encourage people to be careful,” he said. “Take a few minutes to think, and if something doesn’t seem right, don’t do it.”
This holiday season, watch for:
• Seasonal job scams such as ads for mystery shopper or package shipping positions offering work from home. These scammers often send new “employees” a check to deposit and ask for a portion to be wired elsewhere; ultimately, the check is found to be counterfeit and the job-seeker has lost the money.
• Package delivery scams in which the “package” turns out to be a phony notice claiming you’ve won millions of dollars but must send money to redeem the prize. There is no prize.
• Advance-fee loan scams asking you to apply for a loan online, but requiring you to pay a few hundred dollars in advance to secure the loan. Victims send the money but never receive anything in return.
• Online shopping scams, which allow con artists posing as sellers to take 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 sites 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 a puppy.
• Con artists pretending 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; and unexpected, threatening calls.
If you suspect a scam, call 800-282-0515 or visit www.ohioprotects.org.