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Tips to help avoid scams when buying gifts online

From The Trussville Tribune staff reports

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office has put together a list of tips to help customers avoid scams while shopping online for holiday gifts this season.

‘Tis the season when our thoughts turn toward goodwill and giving, says the release. Many people are scouring online sale sites looking for the perfect holiday gift for those special people in their lives. Unfortunately, scammers and con artists are all too aware of this and see the Holiday Season as an opportunity to take advantage of well-meaning shoppers.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office recently received a complaint from a victim who had tried to purchase a puppy from an online sale site. She wired the money to the seller to purchase the dog and later found out that the seller had used a false name and fake identity. The victim lost her money and never received the puppy she had attempted to purchase.

Use these tips to avoid being scammed online;

  • Never extend payment to anyone you have not met in person
  • Beware of offers involving shipping- deal with locals you can meet in person
  • Never wire money- anyone who asks you to is likely a scammer
  • Do not accept cashier/certified checks or money orders- banks cash fakes and hold you responsible
  • Never give out personal or financial info
  • Do not rent or purchase sight-unseen- that amazing “deal” may not exist

Once the terms of the sale have been agreed upon, there are a few more tips to keep you safe;

  • Meet in a public place, preferably one with cameras and people around
  • Do not go to the meeting place alone. Take a trusted friend.
  • Meet at a normal time. Meeting at 3:00 am to buy an item is not a good idea
  • Only take the amount of money needed to complete the purchase.

Sheriff Mike Hale and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office want you to have a safe and enjoyable holiday season and a Merry Christmas.

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