NASHVILLE, Tenn. — People should stay wary of scammers year-round, but consumers should stay especially vigilant over the holidays. This is the time of year when more scams are reported, according to federal investigators.
The Tennessee Attorney General's Office is also urging people to stay vigilant and safe. They released a list of some common scams that are reported around the holidays so that people can more easily identify possible scams and differentiate them from legitimate businesses.
At the top of the list is online purchase scams, when scammers post popular items to online marketplaces at suspiciously low prices. The scammers fail to mention that the items are much inferior compared to what consumers believe they are buying. Sometimes, scammers may not even ship the item.
Next, the attorney general warned people of contractor scams. Scammers may pose as contractors offering to do remodeling work on a person's home. However, the work may never get completed after victims pay them, and the scammer may disappear.
Following that, the attorney general's office warned people of online pet purchase scams. The scammer may send victims pictures of animals taken from legitimate breeders, offering to sell the pets. But after the scammer receives payment, they may make excuses about delays or charge extra fees. The victim may never receive their new pet.
They also warned people of a counterfeit check scam. In this scam, scammers may pay for something with a check and write it out to be more than the item is worth. In exchange, they may ask for a gift card with the difference. However, the check usually turns out to be fake, leaving the seller indebted to the bank.
Finally, the office warned people about tech support scams, where scammers pretend to virtually fix issues on a victim's device. they then may demand payment in gift cards, or they may install viruses to access personal information.
The office also includes some common red flags of scams, which are listed below:
- PRETENDING to be official. Scammers claim to be with an organization, business, utility, or charity that sounds official. They may use technology to change or “spoof” the phone number that appears on your device.
- PROBLEM or PRIZE. You’re in trouble with the government, you owe money, you won a government grant, someone in your family had an emergency, or there’s a virus on your computer.
- PRESSURE to act immediately. Pressure tactics include threats of arrest, taking away your driver’s or business license, and deportation.
- PAY in a specific way. Insisting on payment through a money transfer company or a gift card.
Cocke County Sheriff's Department major Chuck Evans said recently, he's been impersonated by someone else. He said it's rather concerning.
"We tell people we do not ever call you and tell you you have a warrant, you're not going to pay your way out of a warrant and you're not going to pay your way out of jury duty," Evans said.
If you ever see a possible scam, Evans said it's always safe to call your local sheriffs or police departments.
"It would take us less time to help you and get you out of a scam as to investigate the fact you were scammed," Evans said.
People should also block unwanted calls and text messages. And most of all, people should never give away personal and financial information.