WESTCHESTER, N.Y. – The holiday season is a time of giving, but residents should be on the lookout for those looking to take what doesn't belong to them, police officials said.
The holiday shopping season is always a popular time for scams of all sorts, and shoppers should be on their guard, officials warned.
“As always use your head and recognize, if something seems too good to be true it most often is,” said Peekskill Police Spokesperson Lt. Eric Johansen.
One of the fastest growing crimes in the country is identity theft, and residents should exercise caution when shopping on the Internet in particular, Johansen said.
“People need to be careful where they are purchasing from and should only purchase from reputable sites and use secure payment sources such as Paypal and others services that are available,” Johansen said.
Residents should also avoid meeting face to face with unknown vendors to purchase goods, he added.
“There have been instances where people have arranged to meet to sell an item only to be victimized when they show up, either through a bait and switch situation or worse, a robbery,” Johansen said.
The Westchester County Department of Consumer Protection has issued a list of scams to look out for this holiday season:
- Beware of fake holiday jobs . Most of these are work-from-home jobs. If an employer asks for money up front or your Social Security number, you will be a scam victim.
- Fake Charities : If a charity employee comes to your door, calls you or approaches you in a mall parking lot, ask for credentials and information and tell them you’ll consider it later.
- Counterfeit merchandise : Street vendors may sell fake watches, purses and other items that appear to be high-end, name-brand merchandise.
- Fraudulent Shopping Websites : Make sure you check out the website from which you are buying the merchandise or check out the company before making a purchase.
- Email scams : These start with an email that invites you to do something or looks like a directive from your bank. Watch out for emails about fake lotteries, fake contests, and fake charities.
- Phishing scams : In these scams, emails appear to come from a legitimate company and contain a link that sends you to a fraudulent website where you're asked to enter personal information. The site is designed to look like that of a legitimate business.
- Items-off-of-a-truck scams : A roving gang masquerades as delivery men. They pull a truck up in a parking lot and then say they can sell you something cheap, like speakers or electronics. At best, the goods will be low-quality knockoffs and at worst you will be buying stolen goods.
- Limited quantities : An online scam in which a merchant offers supposedly great products at unbeatable prices. But when you place your order, you’re told they have a limited number, and to get the deal, you have to buy several of the items.
- Bait and switch : An old but still effective scam: You buy one thing but receive another more expensive one.Some stores may advertise a deal on one item that they have a limited supply of in order to get shoppers in the store and then attempt to sell them something else.