COLUMBIA, S.C. – It’s the most wonderful time of the year and scammers are looking to take advantage of your holiday spirit. While it’s impossible to know every scam out there, knowing the common red flags will keep you safe. A fraudster often:
Asks you to pay in prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire or bank transfer. Prepaid debit and gift cards are used like cash. Once in the hands of a fraudster, the money is gone and nearly impossible to trace. Same goes for a wire or bank transfer.
Asks you to verify personal information. Scammers love cash but your private information is just as valuable. Whether it’s an email, over the phone or text message, never give any private information to a cold-caller. This approach is common with fake shipping notifications, delivery and tech scams.
Asks for donations to a charity. You may be feeling more generous around the holidays and scammers create fake charities to take your hard-earned money. Before donating, go to the SC Secretary of State’s website to see if the charity is registered or call 1 (888) CHARITI (242-7484).
Makes an offer that seems “too good to be true.” If you are shopping on a third-party site or receive an email/text with an incredible deal for a hot holiday product or a gift exchange, chances are it isn’t real. Always do research by looking at reviews and checking other retailers for price comparisons. Selling something? Be wary of a scammer sending you a check for more than they owe, asking you to deposit it and return the extra cash.
To report a scam or for more information on defending against scams call our Identity Theft Unit at 1(844) TELL DCA (835-5322) or visit consumer.sc.gov and click the Identity Theft Unit tab.
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs aims to protect consumers from inequities in the marketplace through advocacy, complaint mediation, enforcement and education. To file a complaint or get information on consumer issues, visit www.consumer.sc.gov or call toll-free in SC: 1 (800) 922-1594.