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Tennessee Attorney General's office warns of holiday scammers

Posted: 4:01 PM, Dec 04, 2019
Updated: 2019-12-04 19:08:17-05
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NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — Giving Tuesday just wrapped up, kicking off the unofficial start of the holiday charitable giving season, but be careful who you are giving to.

'Tis the season for gift wrapping and gift giving. The Tennessee Attorney General's Office is asking jolly givers to do your homework before you donate to any charity no matter the time of year.

The Federal Trade Commission has the Volunteer state ranking 5th in the Nation for fraud reports. In 2018, more than 18-million dollars were lost in the state because of scams

If you have been contacted by or fallen victim to a charity scam, report it to the Division of Charitable Solicitations; the Federal Trade Commission; and your local police department.

But most importantly, be a smart giver.

"This time of year, when you are in the giving spirit; look we’ve been through Black Friday, Cyber Monday, now it’s time to give to charities. Make sure these are legitimate charities, make sure you’re hard earn money is going to reputable groups," said Samantha Fisher, spokesperson.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance’s (TDCI) Division of Consumer Affairs, says Many holiday scams involve phishing. Phishing is the act of tricking consumers into revealing information or performing actions they wouldn’t normally do online using phony email or social media posts. Cyberscammers tailor their emails and social messages with holiday themes in the hopes of tricking recipients into revealing personal information.

The Division of Consumer Affairs encourages consumers to be familiar with these common holiday scams:

  • UPS phishing scams: A phony notice from UPS says you have a package and need to fill out an attached form to get it delivered. The form may ask for personal or financial details that will go straight into the hands of the cyberscammer.
  • Banking phishing scams: Cybercriminals craft emails to look like notices sent by actual banks in hopes of scamming busy and distracted consumers into providing their online banking usernames and passwords.
  • SMS phishing scams: Scammers send fake messages via a text alert to a phone, notifying an unsuspecting consumer that his bank account has been compromised. The cybercriminals then direct the consumer to call a phone number to get it re-activated—and collects the user’s personal information including Social Security number, address, and account details.E-card scams: While sending electronic cards can be convenient and fun, beware if you must share additional information to open the card, or if the sender’s name is not apparent.
  • Holiday job scams: Retailers and delivery services need extra help at the holidays, but beware of solicitations that require you to share personal information online or pay for a job lead. Apply in person or go to retailers’ main websites to find out who is hiring.
  • Letters from Santa scams: Several trusted companies offer charming and personalized letters from Santa, but scammers mimic them to get personal information from unsuspecting parents. Check with www.bbb.org to find out which ones are legitimate.
  • Family emergency scams: Be cautious if you get a call or email from a family member or friend claiming to be in an accident, arrested, or hospitalized while traveling in another country. Never send money unless you confirm with another family member that it’s true.
  • If you have been contacted by or fallen victim to a charity scam, report it to the Division of Charitable Solicitations, Fantasy Sports and Gaming at the Secretary of State’s Office; the Federal Trade Commission ; your local police department or law enforcement agency; and your bank or credit card company if applicable.

If you are aware of any false, misleading or deceptive fundraising activity, please notify the Division of Charitable Solicitations, Fantasy Sports and Gaming immediately at (615) 741-2555 and ask to speak with an investigator. In addition to speaking with an investigator, please submit a complaint form .

For more scam-fighting resources, visit the TDCI Division of Consumer Affairs website . You can also check what scams are being reported in your area, the state, and across the country by accessing the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker .