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Online Scammers Had a Record Spring

Online Scammers Had a Record Spring

Online Scammers Had a Record Spring
Pierre Area Chamber of Commerce

Staying at home has created new opportunities for scammers, according to a recent report from the Federal Trade Commission. Online thieves are working harder than ever to hit our friends, neighbors, and loved ones where it hurts, but we have the power to stop them if we stay informed of their tactics.

Here are three important tips to keep in mind as you stay safe at home, stay in touch digitally, and shop online:

Pay attention to eCommerce credibility.
Scammers know that certain "hot ticket" items like masks are getting snapped up everywhere, and they're happy to take advantage of that frenzy. Online mask sellers aren't always legitimate, even if they're selling through well-known platforms like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and even Shopify. Always investigate a seller's history and reviews to make sure they've been around for a while and have verified customers vouching for them. As always, bear in mind that if something seems too good to be true - e.g. very inexpensive masks with suspiciously fast shipping times - dig even deeper before pulling out your wallet. To buy directly from our local retailers without physically shopping in person, check out the Chamber’s Shop Where I Live website. It is convenient, local, and trustworthy.

Don't believe everything you hear.
While a great deal of attempted scams occur online - the FTC reported more than 34,000 fraud cases in April and May alone - scammers aren't afraid to give you a call instead. Contact tracing is a practice used to determine who might have been in contact with someone that's tested positive for COVID-19, and it involves a great deal of calling and notifications. Naturally, when a contact tracer calls, you want to be as helpful as possible to prevent further spread and protect yourself. Phony contact tracers exploit this honest and ethical behavior, pressing you for details like your banking information, social security number, and even immigration status. This information has nothing to do with your health or the health of your community, so end the call or contact right away if they ask questions like these. Additionally, no legitimate contact tracer will ever ask you for money, to click a link, or to download a file, either through text messages or on the computer - just say no!

Keep it local, keep it safe.
While the pandemic has given us a lot to be concerned about, now is the perfect time to depend on one another and show our support for local businesses. If you need masks or other protective gear, try to buy from local crafters and businesses - this minimizes potential virus contact. Order takeout, curbside service, or socially-distance table service from local restaurants. The Chamber is available to recommend local businesses for all your needs, whether you're looking to have home repair or lawn care services, or simply need to find a great gift for a loved one.

Together, we can send scammers packing and keep great business and goodwill flowing through our local economy. By staying vigilant as a community and protecting personal health - of both the physical and financial variety - we'll get through this together and emerge stronger than ever before.

To view more of the Chamber’s business blog posts, click here.

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