Holiday Scams Podcast Transcript
Welcome to the Informed Consumer, providing the latest tips and tools to assist consumers in making informed decisions, from the Fairfax County Consumer Affairs Branch.
Today’s topic: Holiday Scams.
The following are some scams to be aware of during the holiday season:
Fake holiday jobs: Most of these are work-from-home jobs. If a bogus employer asks for money up front or your Social Security number, you could be a potential scam victim.
Fake charities: Never give money to any charity without checking them out first. Whether they come to your door or approach you in the mall parking lot, ask for credentials and information and tell them you’ll consider it later. The Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs maintains a list of registered charities, call 1-800-552-9963.
Check scams: This usually involves cashier’s checks. Someone who wants to buy your merchandise will offer to pay more than your asking price, on the condition that you return the difference. Weeks later, you find out from your bank that the check was a fake, and you’re now without your money and your merchandise.
Counterfeit merchandise: Street vendors may sell fake watches, purses and other items that appear to be high-end, name-brand merchandise.
Fake vacation rentals: This involves advertising property that the advertiser doesn’t own.
Non-delivery of merchandise bought online: Make sure you check out the website from which you are buying the merchandise or check out the company.
E-mail scams: These start with an e-mail that invites you to do something or looks like a directive from your bank. They could also tout fake lotteries or other fake contests, and fake charities.
Phishing scams: In these scams, e-mails that appear to come from a legitimate company contain a link that sends you to a website where you're asked to enter personal information. The site, run by a scammer, is designed to look like that of a legitimate business.
Items-off-of-a-truck scams: Yahoo.com explains this as a roving gang of scammers masquerading as delivery men. They pull a truck up in a parking lot, then say that they can sell you something cheap, like speakers or electronics, implying that it’s stolen. At best, the goods will be low-quality knockoffs. At worst, you could be receiving stolen goods.
Limited quantities: An online scam in which a merchant offers supposedly great products at unbeatable prices, but when you place your order you’re told they have a limited number, and to get the deal, you have to buy several of the items.
Bait and switch: An old and still effective scam. You buy one thing, but receive quite another.
Gift card scams: Gift card tampering involves scammers, with special software, who find validated cards with money on them and then spend the money before the unsuspecting victim has a chance to try to spend it.
Thanks for listening to the Informed Consumer. For more information on this topic or if you feel that you’ve been a victim of a scam, please contact the Consumer Affairs Branch at 703-222-8435 or visit our web site at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer. Informed Consumer is produced by the Fairfax County, Virginia, government.