Don't Get Taken!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for both shoppers and scam artists.  You are seeking out the best deals on gifts for friends and family.  Scam artists are seeking out uneducated consumers to take them and their wallets for a ride. 

With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the holiday shopping season underway, it’s important to shop safely.  District Attorney Lynne Abraham and Deputy Commissioner Kevin Bethel want to ensure all of you don’t become targets of criminals. 

They offer the following holiday shopping safety tips:

Going Out of Business Sales

With the economic downturn, many companies are going out of business.  So, before you cash in on their deals, check with the company’s policies, as most purchases are final with no returns or exchanges. 

Gift Cards

Check for expiration dates on your gift cards and read the small print.  There could be progressive fees that build up if the card is not used by a certain date.  Always look for gift cards that never expire and don’t ever charge fees.

Online Shopping

  • Use a credit card, since most credit cards cap your liability at $50. 
  • Dedicate one card for online shopping, so you can keep track of your purchases.
  • Never provide a retailer your social security number.

Holiday Scams

  • Name a Star/Adopt a Star: These companies say you can name a star and you will receive a certificate, entering your star into the star registry.  This is a scam!  Only the International Astronomical Union names stars and they are not for sale.
  • Fake Charities: Reputable charities do not solicit donations online.


  • Nigerian Bank Scam: These scammers send you a counterfeit check and ask you to process it, then ask you to send back an amount of money.  If you receive a check from someone you don’t know asking you to send them a fee, do not cash it.
  • Phishing: Watch out for e-mails that prompt you to enter your social security number, back account numbers and passwords.  Businesses will not ask you to submit this information online.
  • Pharming: This scam redirects you from a legitimate web site to a fake web site.  Then, you type in your login information and password.  The scam artists then have your personal info.  You should make sure your computer is protected with antivirus software.

More on Staying Safe

  • Don’t leave your purse in your shopping cart.  It’s too easy for a thief to grab hold of your cash and run.
  • Keep your wallet in an inside pocket and beware of people knocking into you.  They could be trying to steal your money.
  • Park  your car in a well-lit area of the parking lot.
  • Keep your packages in the trunk, out of sight.
  • Make sure you use a cross-cut shredder.  Shred all personal documents, credit cards and bank statements prior to throwing them in the trash.
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