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FBI Warns About Holiday Scams
The holidays are a time for people to focus on celebrating with family and friends. However, it is also notoriously a time when dishonest people seek to take advantage of others through various schemes and scams. These scams cost Americans millions of dollars every year, and can often result in larger problems such as identity theft and negative credit ratings. Since the holidays are usually a time when people may accumulate some debt, this also makes them potential targets for debt collectors who engage in illegal and harassing practices. If you find yourself in this position, you should consult with an Ohio debt lawyer who can help you put a stop to abusive debt collection efforts.
According to a national report released by AARP regarding the risks of holiday scams, 70 percent of holiday consumers failed a short quiz on how to avoid these scams. Many of them reported engaging in risky behaviors, and more than half report having had at least one stressful life event in the preceding six months, which makes it harder to identify and avoid becoming a victim of these scams.
One popular scam is perpetrated by fundraisers and supposedly charitable organizations that end up keeping most of the money they raise. This scam becomes lucrative during the holidays when almost a third of charitable giving occurs in the United States. According to the AARP’s survey, most Americans who make charitable donations during the holidays do so without verifying how much of their donations actually go towards the charitable cause, or whether the organization was even legally permitted to raise money in the state. Additionally, people are not aware that professional fundraisers are largely permitted to keep the money they raise for a charity as long as they disclose how much they keep. These fundraisers are likely required to register with the government and provide mandatory disclosures regarding their activities.
Off-the-Rack Gift Cards
Another common fraud perpetrated during the holidays involves gift racks that are often found in groceries or large department stores. Scammers will record the unique identifying numbers of several cards, and then later check whether the card has been activated by going online or calling a number for the store that issued the gift card. If the card is active and funds have been deposited by the buyer, the scammer will then use the funds from the card. Gift cards purchased from online merchants, or directly from store employees, who keep cards in secure locations, may be a safer alternative.
Theft of Unattended Packages
Unfortunately, one of the most preventable forms of holiday theft involves stealing unattended packages from people’s front porches or other unsecured locations. With the exponential increase of online holiday shopping, thieves are on the prowl for packages from large online retailers left in front of people’s homes. Most deliveries don’t require a signature upon receipt when ordering something online or when shipping a gift, which is the most effective means of curbing this kind of theft.
Contact an Ohio Debt Attorney to Protect your Rights
As mentioned before, the holidays can be a time when people accumulate some debt and make themselves targets for aggressive debt collectors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) contains laws that regulate the conduct of debt collectors and how they should contact people. For example, you may be able to request a debt collector to stop contacting you or to contact you by mail only.
If you want to assert your rights against unfair collection practices, you should consult the experienced consumer law attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates. Our compassionate advocates can help you figure out how to deal with aggressive debt collectors.