Beware of holiday decoration scams

Ron Craig, Crime Prevention/Community Policing Officer

        One of the most recent scams making its way through the area is one in which people are ordering Christmas decorations through various websites and/or social media platforms and find out it is an outright scam – or they get inferior merchandise.
        Some people are getting nothing delivered after they spend their money ordering decorations, and others are opening the packages only to find flimsy decorations that don’t hold up. When they try to contact the company they bought the merchandise from, they find out the company no longer exists, or they are told they cannot return the goods.
        There are even cases in which the buyer has found out after the fact their credit card information has been used to drain their accounts.
        You may have heard the phrase “caveat emptor,” which means “let the buyer beware.” There are no truer words.
        As with all transactions over the internet, people should know and check out the merchants they are buying from before they enter ordering information, and especially before they enter their credit card or bank information.
        We always recommend you buy from a local business. Not only is this a more trustworthy way to do business, it also helps local people who own and work at these businesses. It has been shown time and time again that when you do business with a local retailer, that money changes hands locally several times. This means many local businesses and people benefit greatly from a trickle-down effect.
        If you have a problem with merchandise bought locally, you are less likely to run across issues with getting replacement merchandise or getting a refund.
        It is also worth noting there are many fraudulent businesses that make themselves look legitimate online. This can be done by copying logos from a legitimate business onto the fraudulent website. Things to look for on these websites are poor language and grammar. This is one of the first signs of fraud, and it is usually obvious.
        This is also the time of year that scams for charity gimmicks are most prevalent. People are in a giving mood, which sets victims up for these scams.
        We recommend everyone who wants to make a charitable donation to any group do their homework to make sure the charity is a legitimate one. It’s always a good idea to check with the local Better Business Bureau before donating. We also encourage everyone to make the donation by sending a check in the mail and not online.
        This article is a public service from the Community Policing/Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.


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