November 26, 2022

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA CITY (KXII) – Attorney General John O’Connor urged Oklahomaans to exercise caution when making purchases and donations this holiday season to avoid scams and scams.

In the FBI’s 2021 Internet Crime Report, O’Connor revealed that losses from cybercrime in the United States last year exceeded $6.9 billion. The report said 4,156 Oklahomaans filed complaints with the FBI and lost more than $50 million.

According to the AARP, 78% of Oklahoma residents have suffered or experienced at least one form of fraud in the past.

Attorney General O’Connor’s Consumer Protection Division offers the following tips to protect Oklahomaans and their families this holiday season.

  • Purchase a gift card for a gift, not for payment: If someone contacts you and asks you to pay with a gift card, it’s likely a scam. Report gift card fraud directly to the card issuer and then to the FTC.
  • Research charities before donating. Make sure your donations go where you want them and not in the hands of scammers. If someone asks you to donate to a charity, don’t let them rush you into donating. Instead, research charities to see if your donations matter. Tell your lawyer you will investigate and call back. If they don’t pressure you or give you a return number, it could be a scam.
  • Do not click on any questionable links or attachments in emails, websites or social media. “Phishing” scams and similar crimes encourage you to click on a link and provide personal information such as name, password and bank account number. In some cases, you may unknowingly download malware onto your device.
  • Check each website’s URL to make sure it’s legitimate and safe. The site you are purchasing from must have “https” in its web address. If not, do not enter any information on that site.
  • Be careful with your payment method. Please pay by credit card if possible. Credit cards offer extra protection for most online purchases, and many cards offer benefits such as return and purchase protection. If your statement shows an unauthorized charge, call your credit card company to dispute the charge. Do not use peer-to-peer apps such as Cash App, Zelle, or Venmo for purchases unless you are familiar with individuals or businesses. P2P apps do not have the same consumer protections as credit cards.
  • Monitoring the delivery process: Always check the tracking number for the items you buy online to make sure the item has shipped and follow the shipping process. Packages piled outside your door can be a target for porch poachers. If you plan to go out of town but expect delivery, keep your mail at the post office until you return, or ask a neighbor to pick it up for you. Be wary of unsolicited text messages containing strange web links indicating that your package cannot be shipped. If you have never signed up for a tracking request for a particular package, do not click on the link! This is most likely a scam.
  • Find and avoid government impersonators. These types of scams often start with a call, email, or text from someone claiming to belong to the IRS, Social Security, or Medicare. However, in some cases, fake agency names are provided, such as the non-existent National Sweepstakes Bureau. They will also give you some reasons to send money or provide your personal information right away. If you get a call like this, hang up. Government agencies will never call, email or text you to ask for money or personal information. Only scammers will do that. If you believe a call or message may be genuine, call the government agency directly at the correct number.
  • Learn how to identify mail fraud and mail fraud text. This can come in the form of giveaways, threatening punishments or text messages. Often scam letters have your name on them and appear to be written just for you. The letter states that you must pay a fee or buy something to ensure good luck. It asks you to fill out the form and mail your payment. The letter is a formal letter, not a private message, and it is a trick. Never send money or information to anyone who promises you a big reward. If you really get something, you will get it without paying.

“As we enter another exciting holiday season, I want to make sure Oklahomaans are prepared with the latest consumer protection tips to ensure safe and enjoyable festivals and shopping,” said General O’Connor. “Cheaters see the holiday season as a prime opportunity to take advantage of consumers, so it’s more important than ever to take precautions to protect yourself and your money. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it is true.”

According to the press release, if you fall for a holiday scam, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission online or at 877-382-4357 and with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at https://www.oag.ok. Call gov/consumer-protection-unit or 1-833-681-1895.

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