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November 25, 2015
For More Information, contact:
Luther Strange
Mike Lewis (334) 353-2199
Alabama Attorney General
Joy Patterson (334) 242-7491
Page 1 of 2

(MONTGOMERY) – Tis the season for spending time with family and friends. Unfortunately,
scammers are also at their height this time of year trying to take advantage of consumers’ spirit
of giving. With this in mind, Attorney General Luther Strange would like to remind you of
some recurring scams that often prey upon unsuspecting people during the Holidays.
Scammers Posing as Family or Friends Needing Help
Someone may contact you by phone or email claiming a family member has been arrested or is
incapacitated and needs money. The scammers will instruct you to wire cash or provide them
with a prepaid card number. As a general rule you should never send money to anyone if you
cannot verify their identity. If you are unsure, check the whereabouts of the person reportedly
needing assistance with other family members. Additionally, ask the person calling or emailing
to verify details that only family would know, such as location of last family gathering, where
they went to high school or college, etc.
Fake Charity Scams

The Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday Season is also a popular time for fake charity scams.
These scammers often use phishing emails, spoofed telephone numbers or door-to-door visits.
Scammers may act as if they are working for an established charity or may even create a fake
charity. Be safe and directly contact the charity of your choice and donate to them instead. If
you suspect a door-to-door solicitor isn’t honest, contact your local law enforcement agency.
Holiday Gift Card Scam

Unfortunately, Christmas gift cards can also be manipulated by thieves. Scammers sometimes
rub off the security codes from gift cards while they are still on store shelves and wait until they
think the gift card has been sold and activated. They will then spend the money, leaving the
recipient with no money left on the card. To avoid this scam, make sure the gift card you are
buying is intact before you buy it. Compare it to other gift cards of the same variety. Be sure to
keep your gift card receipt.

501 Washington Avenue * Montgomery, AL 36104 * (334) 242-7300
www.ago.alabama.gov Page 2 of 2

Buyer Beware

Beware of websites that feature pop-up advertising promising a hard-to-find item or items at a
too-good-to-be-true price. Always remember, if an online offers seems too good to be true, then
it probably is.
Holiday Shopping Safety Tips
Lastly, shoppers should be extra vigilant this time of year for crimes of opportunity. It is
always best to keep the following in mind:

  • Always park in a well-lit area.
  • Do not leave your purse, presents, or other purchases in plain view in your
  • If possible, always shop with a friend or family member. There is safety in
  • If meeting someone to purchase something bought online, such as from
    Craigslist or Facebook, meet in a heavily trafficked and well-lit area. If possible,
    meet in the parking lot of your local police department or sheriff’s office.
    “The best protection against scams and crimes of opportunity is not to be caught by surprise by
    scammers and thieves,” said Attorney General Strange. “Use your judgement and take time to
    verify questionable contacts. Look for the signs of a scam: They contact you, ask for your
    personal information and demand that you pay them by wire or prepaid card to collect a prize
    or pay a supposed debt. Be wary and don’t be afraid to demand proof. Don’t be a victim of
    consumer fraud.”

To report suspected consumer fraud, Alabamians can call the Attorney General’s Consumer
Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-5658. You can also visit the Attorney General’s website at
http://www.ago.state.al.us/and click on “Consumer Protection.” To file an on-line complaint,
use the link: http://www.ago.state.al.us/Page-Consumer-Protection-File-a-Complaint-01