It’s scam season. Local shoppers, especially those who shop online or over the phone, should be wary of suspicious calls from scammers masquerading as legitimate companies such as Amazon, Apple, or PayPal.
People most often try to steal your money.
“The most important thing is that if it sounds too good to be true, it is probably too good to be true,” Cambridge Police Captain Dave Peoples said. “Very few, if any, legitimate businesses will call you and ask for money because they know about the scams.”
Peoples said they were not afraid to find a number for the company and call them directly to confirm the offer or the alleged problem touted by scammers often using illegal robocalls.
Contact details for customer service can usually be found on the company’s website.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost recently issued a scam warning about such calls being made on the pretext of wanting to help remedy a situation, such as a major purchase being charged to a credit card. credit.
âLegitimate businesses don’t do their business that way, so hang up,â Yost said. âThese imposters want to get you online and cause panic for you to spit out personal information. I hope you will respond by ending the call.
Various Amazon identity theft scams are occupying phone lines across the country, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
The “representative” then persuades the consumer to give remote access to a device or account so that they can issue a so-called refund. Instead, the scammer has access to the consumer’s personal identifying information.
The scammer can also persuade the victim to buy gift cards in order to stop the unauthorized purchase.
On Amazon’s website, the company’s guidelines make it clear that employees would never call a customer to get personal information or discuss a refund the customer doesn’t expect.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office offers these tips to help consumers:
- Hang up if you get a cold call from someone claiming you’ve purchased an item from Amazon or another popular online retailer. Do not recall the number on your caller ID or the phone number mentioned in the message. Instead, if you’re concerned about the supposed purchase, contact the retailer using their legitimate phone number or email address.
- Carefully review the details of your purchases on your online account and credit card bills for any unauthorized charges. If you see an unauthorized debit, report it to your credit card company immediately.
- Never allow a stranger to remotely access your smartphone, tablet or computer.
- Beware of requests from a stranger to purchase gift cards as payment for any product or service as part of a refund process or to allegedly help stop fraud or someone in need. Once you disclose a gift card PIN to someone, that person will be able to access the money on the card.
The Better Business Bureau is also warning consumers to keep an eye out for red flags in the digital marketplace as part of the Shop Safe, Shop Smart campaign when shopping online this year.
The following tips were offered by the Central Ohio BBB:
- Beware of fake websites and bogus offers. A website may appear official, but a seemingly professional image or appearance does not make it an official business. Check out the BBB’s tips for identifying a fake website.
- Read the fine print. Retailers can offer a staggering percentage on an item or service just to have a surprise charge added after a consumer provides their payment information.
- Beware of toy and other merchandise scams. Some popular toys and game consoles are at the top of the list this year, but be careful with any items you find sold outside of a reputable retailer. Be sure to check the company’s BBB profile when searching for the online retailer before purchasing.
- Pay attention to social media ads. Scams, ranging from counterfeit merchandise to bogus charities, have been reported to use social media advertising as a way to attract consumers.
Visit BBB.org/OnlineShopping for more information on how to protect yourself and your identity this holiday season.
Peoples said local law enforcement often does not have the resources or the competence to investigate such a crime, but officers will take a report if necessary.
âIn many cases these crimes are committed outside our jurisdiction and often they are committed overseas,â Peoples said. “We hate to hear that someone in the community has been scammed and if you need a report, especially for a bank, it’s okay to report.”
For more information, call the Cambridge Police Department, 740-439-4431, or the Guernsey County Sheriff’s Office, 740-439-4455.
If you have been scammed by a business impostor into disclosing personally identifiable information, download the Ohio Attorney General’s publication ID Theft Basics and visit www.identitytheft.gov for help with the way to proceed.
Consumers who suspect an unfair or deceptive selling practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s office at www.OhioProtects.org or 1-800-282-0515.