Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Beware of Holiday Scammers, Says Virginia AG Miyares

Photo by Rodion Kutsaiev on Unsplash

RICHMOND — The holidays are in full swing, with snowflakes falling, partygoers highballing, carolers caterwauling — and scammers cold-calling.

And emailing. And texting.

Last year, the consumer protection division of Virginia’s Office of the Attorney General received 1,006 complaints during the holiday season, generally defined as running from the two weeks before Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, said spokeswoman Victoria LaCivita.

Not all of those complaints may have been holiday related, said LaCivita. But because December’s high volume of shopping and end-of-year charitable donations encourage the unscrupulous to take advantage of people’s goodwill, Attorney General Jason Miyares is encouraging Virginians to take precautions.

“Trust your gut,” said Miyares in a video guide to avoiding scammers. “If it seems off, it probably is off.”

Among the office’s tips:

  • Avoid websites that require you to wire money, use gift cards, or cryptocurrency.
  • When shopping online, make sure you’re paying through a secure website whose address begins with “https”.
  • If you’re worried, google the seller’s name with the words “scam” or “complaint” to see if others have had negative experiences. Be cautious of unsolicited requests, like phone calls, emails or text messages from unknown origins requesting donations.
  • Check if the charity and its fundraiser are registered with the Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs within the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: contact (804) 786-1343 or http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/food-charitable-solicitation.shtml
  • Remember: While a legitimate charity should be registered with OCRP to solicit contributions in Virginia, registration alone does not mean that the organization will be effective in using your donation.
  • Never share personal or financial information to unknown contacts.

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: info@virginiamercury.com. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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