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State: Beware of Holiday Shopping Scams

Sari Montag

State officials are reminding residents to be vigilant this holiday season.

The Office of Consumer Protection warns of scams and deceptive advertising aimed at shoppers at stores and online. 

Officials say there is an uptick in fraudulent activity during the holiday season – as scammers try to take advantage of consumers purchasing gifts.

A growing trend in Hawaii and across the country: tampering with gift cards.

Stephen Levins is the Executive Director of the State Office of Consumer Protection.

Credit Thomas photography / Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Consumers should also be aware of fake shipping notifications. If you shop online, you acn expect delivery notifications throughout the holiday season. But officials are warning residents to be on the lookout for phishing scams that use a legitimate business' name and logo to trick you into opening a fake email shipping notification. Opening the notification will allow the scammers to gain access to your personal information and passwords. Delivery services do not require you to provide your personal information or pay money to deliver your packages. 

You should also beware of look-alike websites and security certificates. There is usually an increase of mailers and email alerts announcing deals, gifts and sales. While they may look like they are from legitimate businesses, the links may lead you to look-alike websites meant to trick you into providing personal information or give identity thieves an opportunity to download malware onto your computer. You should carefully read website addresses, and make sure your shopping is secure by looking for the "https" before the website address.

If you are shopping online, officials say to use your credit card. This is because with a credit card, you'll pay no more than $50 in the event of fraudulent transactions. It also offers dispute rights if something goes wrong with the merchandise or the purchase.

If you believe you have been a victim of a holiday shopping scam, you can file a complaint with the Office of Consumer Protection at (808) 587-4272 or http://cca.hawaii.gov/ocp/consumer-complaint/

More tips and information can be found by clicking here.

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at charlow@hawaiipublicradio.org or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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