Maryland Attorney General Frosh: Keep guard against holiday shopping scams

It’s the holiday shopping season, which is also a time when scammers are busy trying to separate consumers from their money. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh led an hourlong online forum Wednesday aimed at helping consumers avoid being scammed.

“The folks who are trying to steal your money are clever, and they know that this is a time when people are out shopping, this is a time when people are spending money and they try to capitalize on it,” said Frosh.

The first line of defense against scammers is to safeguard personal information — your Social Security number, account numbers, PIN numbers and passwords.

“Personal information is at risk pretty much all the time, so you have to be very careful,” Frosh said.

Some offers should set off alarms to savvy consumers.

“If you see items for sale at a really low price, or you see free trials, or businesses claiming purchases support a charity, these all very well can be come-on’s to get clicks that lead you to a fraudulent website or counterfeit shopping website where you wind up spending money or revealing your personal information,” Frosh said.

The Maryland attorney general recommends that online shoppers carefully examine the web page, looking specifically at the web address and email addresses to make sure the site is a legitimate vendor.

Frosh said to never consent to business requests that you pay by money order, wire transfer or gift cards.

“That’s a scam, don’t ever do that,” Frosh said.

Free gift cards are being offered in another popular scam this holiday season.

“Somebody is requesting personal information and all you have to do is give them that and they’ll send you a free gift card. These are scams, people impersonate legitimate companies,” Frosh said.

When paying for purchases, Frosh suggested that paying by credit is the safest way to recoup money if the deal turns bad.

“The best thing you can do if you’re buying something is use your credit card, don’t use a debit card, it comes right out of your bank account … if you use a credit card and it turns out to be a fraud, you got a shot at getting your money back,” Frosh said.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters and republished with permission. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

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