Authorities warn consumers about holiday scams

Authorities warn consumers about holiday scams
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

By Suzanne Potter
This story was originally published by Public News Service

CARSON CITY — During the holiday season, scams involving gift cards and package delivery are everywhere, according to federal authorities. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns of calls or emails that seem to come from someone you know, saying there’s an emergency.

Daniel Schiess, assistant United States Attorney for Nevada, said to be especially wary if you are asked to pay with a gift card.

“Really big red flag,” Schiess advised. “Any time you’re asked to pay by gift card and then on top of that, you’re asked to give the gift card number and the code, hang up. Cut off email. Something. Because somebody’s just trying to fraudulently separate you from your money.”

In a different scam, fraudsters will scratch off the back of a gift card, steal the code and cover it back up with a sticker. Once you activate it at the register, they drain the card. You can report fraud on the FTC’s website, and find additional tips on the AARP Fraud Watch Network website.

Schiess pointed out as always, beware of any deals that seem too good to be true.

“You’ll see advertisements on untrustworthy websites,” Schiess noted. “And ads promoting unrealistic discounts. You’ll see social-media posts that are offering vouchers, gift cards, freebies and contests. And these posts often appear to be shared by a friend when they are not.”

Authorities have also seen a rise in cases where people receive fake calls or texts claiming there will be a delay in your package’s delivery, and a surge of so-called “porch pirates” who stroll neighborhoods watching for package deliveries.

FBI data showed last year during the holidays, consumers filed 17,000 complaints about undelivered packages worth $53 million.