Officials warn of new holiday scams, urge people to be careful

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Posted at 6:47 AM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 07:51:15-05

TAMPA, Fla. — There are new warnings about holiday scams.

“We are seeing some different scams going on a little bit this year,” said Eric Olsen, Manager of Consumer Protection Services for Hillsborough County.

They’re largely focused on online shopping.

“People need to watch out for things like fake online scams that involve online shops that are fake, online emails or notifications that are fake,” said Olsen.

Officials are seeing more of these right now, especially now that the holidays are here.

Watch out for things like:

  • Look-alike websites where fraudsters will try to steal your money
  • Holiday emails with links that could trick you into downloading malware
  • Unsolicited texts offering discounts

Crooks are also taking advantage of supply chain issues, experts say.

“Consumers have to be very careful right now that they do their homework and make sure they’re working with a reputable retailer,” said Olsen.

Officials are seeing scammers purchase highly sought-after items that are out of stock, trying to get as much money as possible on third-party websites, and then not following through with the purchase.

They’re also seeing scammers claiming to have these items when they don’t.

“If someone is offering something they’ve got that new device that everyone wants but you can’t find it anywhere else, that could be a scam,” said Olsen.

Other things to watch out for include:

  • High-pressure sales tactics in-person or online claiming you have to act now and buy today. That’s a big red flag.
  • Fake shipping notifications
  • Unusual forms of payment like cryptocurrency or someone insisting you use a gift card or prepaid card.

“If you use a credit card you can dispute the charge if you don’t get what you’re paying for. So it’s always better to use an established credit card,” said Olsen.

“It’s a challenging time during the holidays. We want everybody to have a good time, be able to get what they want, but it can be challenging so be careful out there,” he added.

That’s because not only will fraudsters steal your money, they’ll also try to steal your personal information.

"Information is very valuable. People can use that, these criminals will use that to open up accounts, charge things, and they’re very good at what they do. They might open up an account and not use it for a while, make sure it’s got enough money added to it and then start charging on it when you’re not aware of it,” said Olsen.